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Appetite. 2002 Oct;39(2):137-45.

Does nutrition information about the energy density of meals affect food intake in normal-weight women?

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  • 1The Laboratory for the Study of Human Ingestive Behavior, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA 16802-6501, USA.


This study investigated whether the energy density of foods affected energy intake when subjects were informed about the energy density of their meals. Forty normal-weight women ate breakfast, lunch, and dinner in the laboratory on three separate days. The entrée at each meal was varied in energy density to be either 1.25, 1.50, or 1.75 kcal/g (5.23, 6.28, or 7.32 kJ/g), but was held similar in macronutrient composition and palatability. On each day, the entrées at all three meals had the same energy density. All entrées were consumed ad libitum. Subjects were assigned to one of two groups. Subjects in the information group received a nutrition label with each meal, which showed the energy density of the entrée. Subjects in the no-information group did not receive any nutrition information. The results revealed that subjects in both groups had the same pattern of food intake across the three levels of energy density. Energy density significantly affected energy intake; subjects in both groups combined consumed 22% less energy in the condition of low energy density than in the condition of high energy density (p < 0.0001). These findings show that energy density can have a significant influence on energy intake, even when individuals are informed about the energy density of their meals.

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