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Int J Obes (Lond). 2007 Jul;31(7):1061-7. Epub 2007 Feb 20.

Dietary energy density increases during early childhood irrespective of familial predisposition to obesity: results from a prospective cohort study.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, Philadelphia, PA, USA.



This study compared 4-year changes in daily energy density (ED; kcal/g) in children born at different risk for obesity, characterized the stability of ED and examined associations between ED and child body composition.


Prospective cohort study to measure habitual dietary ED of children who are born at different risk for obesity.


Children who were born at high risk (n=22) or low risk (n=27) for obesity based on maternal pre-pregnancy weight.


Three-day food records were collected from children's mothers at child ages 3, 4, 5 and 6 years. Three categories of ED were computed (food only, food and milk, and food and all beverages) and body composition assessed at each year.


The mean (+/-s.e.m.) ED increased over time across all children (linear trend: P<0.003): 2.18+/-0.07 to 2.32+/-0.06 kcal/g (food only); 1.66+/-0.07 to 1.82+/-0.06 kcal/g (food and milk); and 1.24+/-0.04 to 1.37+/-0.05 kcal/g (food and all beverages). Intraindividual coefficients of variation were smaller than those previously reported for adults. Weight indices were not correlated with dietary ED (P>0.05).


Dietary ED increased in young children, irrespective of their predisposition to obesity, between the ages of 3 and 6 years. The genes that promote childhood obesity may not exert their influence through dietary ED, which may be more strongly influenced by environmental factors.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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