Dietary energy density in the treatment of obesity: A year-long trial comparing 2 weight-loss diets

Julia A. Ello-Martin, Liane S. Roe, Jenny H. Ledikwe, Amanda M. Beach, Barbara J. Rolls

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

280 Scopus citations


Background: Consuming foods low in energy density (kcal/g) decreases energy intake over several days, but the effectiveness of this strategy for weight loss has not been tested. Objective: The effects on weight loss of 2 strategies for reducing the energy density of the diet were compared over 1 y. Design: Obese women (n = 97) were randomly assigned to groups counseled either to reduce their fat intake (RF group) or to reduce their fat intake and increase their intake of water-rich foods, particularly fruit and vegetables (RF+FV group). No goals for energy or fat intake were assigned; the subjects were instructed to eat ad libitum amounts of food while following the principles of their diet. Results: After 1 y, study completers (n = 71) in both groups had significant decreases in body weight (P < 0.0001). Subjects in the RF+FV group, however, had a significantly different pattern of weight loss (P = 0.002) than did subjects in the RF group. After 1 y, the RF+FV group lost 7.9 ± 0.9 kg and the RF group lost 6.4 ± 0.9 kg. Analysis of all randomly assigned subjects also showed a different pattern of weight loss between groups (P = 0.021). Diet records indicated that both groups had similar reductions in fat intake. The RF+FV group, however, had a lower dietary energy density than did the RF group (P = 0.019) as the result of consuming a greater weight of food (P = 0.025), especially fruit and vegetables (P = 0.037). The RF+FV group also reported less hunger (P = 0.003). Conclusion: Reducing dietary energy density, particularly by combining increased fruit and vegetable intakes with decreased fat intake, is an effective strategy for managing body weight while controlling hunger.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1465-1477
Number of pages13
JournalAmerican Journal of Clinical Nutrition
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1 2007

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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