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J Nutr. 2018 May 1;148(5):798-806. doi: 10.1093/jn/nxy041.

A Low Energy-Dense Diet in the Context of a Weight-Management Program Affects Appetite Control in Overweight and Obese Women.

Author information

Human Appetite Research Unit, Appetite Control and Energy Balance Group, School of Psychology, University of Leeds, Leeds, United Kingdom.
Nutrition and Research Department, Slimming World, Alfreton, United Kingdom.



Low energy-dense (LED) foods reduce energy intake (EI); whether this effect is sustained over time and during weight loss is unknown.


This trial examined the effects of LED compared with high energy-dense (HED) meals on appetite, EI, and control over eating in the laboratory and during a weight-management program that encourages unrestricted intake of LED foods [Slimming World, UK (SW)] compared with a self-led Standard Care program [NHS weight-loss plan (SC)].


Overweight and obese women [n = 96; mean ± SD age: 41.03 ± 12.61 y; mean ± SD body mass index (in kg/m2): 34.00 ± 3.61] were recruited from the SW or SC programs. Primary outcomes included appetite, food preferences (liking and wanting for LED and HED foods), cravings, and evening meal EI (LED, HED) in response to calorie-matched LED (≤0.8 kcal/g) and HED (≥2.5 kcal/g) breakfast and lunch meals. Probe-day tests were conducted at weeks 3 and 4 and repeated at weeks 12 and 13 in a within-day crossover design. Secondary outcomes, including body weight and program experience, were measured from weeks 1 to 14 in a parallel-group design. Dietary compliance was monitored with the use of weighed food diaries at weeks 3 and 12.


Intention-to-treat (ITT) and completers analyses showed that the SW group lost more weight than the SC group [ITT: -5.9% (95% CI: -4.7%, -7.2%) compared with -3.5% (-2.3%, -4.8%), P < 0.05; completers: -6.2% (-4.8%, -7.6%) compared with 3.9% (-2.5%, -5.2%), P < 0.05]. The SW group reported greater control over eating and more motivation to continue the program compared with the SC group. LED meals increased sensations of fullness and reduced hunger on probe days (P < 0.001). Total-day EI was 1057 ± 73 kcal less (95% CI: 912, 1203 kcal; 36%) under LED compared with HED conditions (P < .001). Liking for LED and HED foods and wanting for HED foods were lower before lunch under LED compared with HED conditions, and liking decreased to a greater extent after the LED lunch. The SW group reported fewer cravings under LED compared with HED conditions (P < 0.05). On probe days, appetite and EI outcomes did not differ between weeks 3 and 12 or between the SW and SC groups.


LED meals improve appetite control in women attempting weight loss and the effect is sustainable. Consumption of LED meals likely contributed to weight loss in the SW program. This study was registered at as NCT02012426.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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