Energy density of foods affects energy intake in normal-weight women

Elizabeth A. Bell, Victoria H. Castellanos, Christine L. Pelkman, Michelle L. Thorwart, Barbara J. Rolls

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332 Scopus citations


This study examined the effect of energy density, independent of fat content and palatability, on food and energy intakes. With use of a within- subjects design, normal-weight women (n = 18) were provided with meals for 2 d during each of three test sessions. During lunch, dinner, and an evening snack, subjects were given free access to a main entree varying in energy density (low, medium, or high). The manipulated main entrees were similar in palatability to their counterparts across conditions. Low-energy compulsory (consumption required) side dishes accompanied each meal. Subjects also consumed a standard, compulsory breakfast. Results showed that subjects consumed a similar amount of food (by weight) across the three conditions of energy density. Thus, significantly more energy was consumed in the condition of high energy density (7532 ± 363 kJ, or 1800 ± 86 kcal) than in the medium- (6356 ± 281 kJ, or 1519 ± 67 kcal) and low- (5756 ± 178 kJ, or 1376 ± 43 kcal) energy-density conditions (P < 0.0001). There were no differences in hunger or fullness before meals, after meals, or over the 2 d across conditions. The results from this study indicate that energy density affects energy intake independent of macronutrient content or palatability, suggesting that the overconsumption of high-fat foods may be due to their high energy density rather than to their fat content.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)412-420
Number of pages9
JournalAmerican Journal of Clinical Nutrition
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1998

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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