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Am J Clin Nutr. 2004 Jun;79(6):962-8.

Combined effects of energy density and portion size on energy intake in women.

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



Increases in both the portion size and energy density of food have both been shown to increase energy intake, but the combined effects of such increases have not been investigated.


The objective was to determine the combined effects of energy density and portion size on energy intake in women.


This study used a within-subjects design. Once a week for 6 wk, 39 women were served breakfast, lunch, and dinner ad libitum. The main entrée at lunch was formulated in 2 versions that varied in energy density (5.23 or 7.32 kJ/g), each of which was served in 3 different portion sizes (500, 700, or 900 g). The 2 versions were matched for macronutrient composition and palatability. Breakfast and dinner were standard meals.


Increases in portion size and energy density led to independent and additive increases in energy intake (P <0.0001). Subjects consumed 56% more energy (925 kJ) when served the largest portion of the higher energy-dense entrée than when served the smallest portion of the lower energy-dense entrée. Subjects did not compensate for the additional intake by eating less at the subsequent meal. Despite substantial differences in energy intake, no systematic differences in ratings of hunger and fullness across conditions were observed.


The energy density and the portion size of a food act independently to affect energy intake. The findings indicate that large portions of foods with a high energy density may facilitate the overconsumption of energy.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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