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Am J Clin Nutr. 2008 Sep;88(3):677-84.

Dietary energy density predicts women's weight change over 6 y.

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Center for Childhood Obesity Research, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA 16802, USA.



Dietary energy density (ED) is positively associated with energy intake, but little is known about long-term effects on weight change.


We assessed whether dietary ED predicts weight change over 6 y among a sample of non-Hispanic, white women.


Participants were part of a 6-y longitudinal study (n = 186), assessed at baseline and biennially. ED (in kcal/g) was calculated from the energy content of all foods (excluding beverages) with the use of three 24-h recalls. Height and weight were measured in triplicate to calculate body mass index (BMI; in kg/m(2)). Repeated measures (PROC MIXED) were used to examine the influence of ED on weight change, before and after adjusting for initial weight status. Food choices were examined among subjects consuming low-, medium-, and high-ED diets at study entry.


ED did not change across time for a subject. ED was positively associated with weight gain and higher BMI over time; this association did not vary by BMI classification. Food group data showed that, compared with women consuming higher-ED diets, women consuming lower-ED diets reported significantly lower total energy intakes and consumed fewer servings of baked desserts, refined grains, and fried vegetables and more servings of vegetables, fruit, and cereal. Women consuming lower-ED diets ate more meals at the table and fewer meals in front of the television.


Findings indicate that consumption of a lower-ED diet moderates weight gain, which may promote weight maintenance. Consuming lower ED diets can be achieved by consuming more servings of fruit and vegetables and limiting intake of high-fat foods.

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