Strong and consistent evidence supports low-energy-density diets for weight loss

April 3, 2012

A new report published online today in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics systematically reviews and updates the evidence underlying the recommendation in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010 to consume a diet low in energy density (ED). The report addresses the growing body of evidence linking ED, or the number of calories in a given amount of food, and body weight in adults as well as children and adolescents. The systematic review concluded that there is strong and consistent evidence in adults showing that consuming a diet higher in ED is associated with increased body weight, while consuming a diet that is relatively low in ED improves weight loss and weight maintenance. In children and adolescents, moderately strong evidence shows a relationship between higher ED diets and increased weight.

"The conclusions reached in our review strengthen the recommendations in the to consume such foods as fruits, vegetables, , and lean sources, which are generally lower in ED, while lowering consumption of total fat, saturated fat, and added sugars, which increase ED of foods," says lead investigator Rafael Perez-Escamilla, PhD, of Yale University, and a member of the 2010 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee. "It also strengthens the focus on considering overall rather than simply targeting modifications to individual components of the diet."

Investigators evaluated 17 studies of dietary ED and body weight in adults. Seven were (RCT), one was a non-controlled trial, and 9 were cohort studies. These studies were conducted in the United States, Brazil, Europe, France, Germany, The Netherlands, Denmark, and . Fifteen of the 17 studies offered evidence that linked diets lower in ED with improved weight loss or weight maintenance. In a number of the weight loss trials reviewed, lowering ED was most effective for promoting weight loss during the active intervention period, but some studies found that the benefit was not always sustained over time. The relationship between lower ED and improved weight maintenance, based on the cohort studies, was highly consistent.

Six prospective studies from the United States, United Kingdom, and Germany were included in the review of evidence on dietary ED and body weight in children and adolescents. Studies included normal weight and overweight boys and girls. The majority of studies showed a relationship between higher dietary ED and increased weight in children.

"While the mechanisms for the relationship between ED and weight have not been widely studied, it has been hypothesized that lowering ED can enhance satiety and contribute to reductions in calorie intake," explains Dr. Perez-Escamilla.

While the findings from this systematic review suggest that consuming diets lower in ED may be an effective strategy for managing body weight, Dr. Perez-Escamilla notes that there is a need for public health strategies to communicate what ED means and how it is associated with body weight. "Guidelines for how to estimate ED for different products based on food label information, how to decrease dietary ED, and how to sustain weight loss benefits using lower ED diets in the long term are needed," he concludes.

In an accompanying podcast Rafael Pérez-Escamilla, PhD, and Julie E Obbagy, PhD, RD, discuss the relationship between and weight and its impact not only on adults, but also on children and adolescents.

Explore further: New study compares diets for weight management in obese children

More information: The podcast is available at http://andjrnl.org/content/podcast.

Related Stories

New study compares diets for weight management in obese children

March 14, 2012
A new study of three diets with obese children shows that all diets are effective in managing weight but that a reduced glycemic load diet – one that accounts for how many carbs are in the food and how much each gram ...

Dairy foods may improve bone health during diet and exercise in overweight premenopausal women

November 9, 2011
A recent study accepted for publication in The Endocrine Society's Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism (JCEM) found that consumption of dairy foods and higher protein resulted in improvements in markers of bone ...

Recommended for you

To combat teen smoking, health experts recommend R ratings for movies that depict tobacco use

July 21, 2017
Public health experts have an unusual suggestion for reducing teen smoking: Give just about any movie that depicts tobacco use an automatic R rating.

Why sugary drinks and protein-rich meals don't go well together

July 20, 2017
Having a sugar-sweetened drink with a high-protein meal may negatively affect energy balance, alter food preferences and cause the body to store more fat, according to a study published in the open access journal BMC Nutrition.

Aging Americans enjoy longer life, better health when avoiding three risky behaviors

July 20, 2017
We've heard it before from our doctors and other health experts: Keep your weight down, don't smoke and cut back on the alcohol if you want to live longer.

Opioids and obesity, not 'despair deaths,' raising mortality rates for white Americans

July 20, 2017
Drug-related deaths among middle-aged white men increased more than 25-fold between 1980 and 2014, with the bulk of that spike occurring since the mid-1990s when addictive prescription opioids became broadly available, according ...

Parents have critical role in preventing teen drinking

July 20, 2017
Fewer teenagers are drinking alcohol but more needs to be done to curb the drinking habits of Australian school students, based on the findings of the latest study by Adelaide researchers.

Fresh fish oil lowers diabetes risk in rat offspring

July 19, 2017
Fresh fish oil given to overweight pregnant rats prevented their offspring from developing a major diabetes risk factor, Auckland researchers have found.

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

theskepticalpsychic
not rated yet Apr 03, 2012
So poorly written it is virtually impossible to understand.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.