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Eur J Clin Nutr. 2008 Oct;62(10):1194-200. Epub 2007 Jul 11.

Diet quality and lifestyle associated with free selected low-energy density diets in a representative Spanish population.

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Lipids and Cardiovascular Epidemiology Unit, Institut Municipal d'Investigació Mèdica, IMIM, Barcelona, Spain.



Dietary intake is strongly influenced by the energy density of the diet. The purpose of this study was to determine the association of energy density with diet quality, dietary reference intake (DRI) for energy and lifestyle characteristics in free-living people.


The subjects were Spanish men (n=1491) and women (n=1563) selected in between 1999 and 2000 among the general population according to the 1996 census.


A low-energy density diet was significantly associated (P<0.001) with a higher consumption of vegetables, fruits, legumes, fish and white meat as compared to high-energy density diets. More subjects (P<0.001) with a high adherence to low-energy density diets meet DRI for energy intake and tended to be closer (P<0.05) to the recommendations of dietary intakes, established by the Spanish Society of Community Nutrition than those following a high-energy density diet. Alcohol consumption, the prevalence of a sedentary lifestyle and smoking significantly increased (P<0.01) across quartile distribution of energy density.


Low-energy density diets of the present population were associated with a healthier lifestyle. Furthermore, our data suggest that adherence to low-energy density diets, with similar characteristics to those found in the present population, promote adequate energy intakes and increase overall diet quality.

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