Strategies need to be developed to reduce preschool children’s energy intake.
To test the effect of reducing the energy density of an entrée on children’s ad libitum energy intake.
Subjects were 2- to 5-year-old children (37 boys and 40 girls) in a university day-care facility.
In this within-subjects crossover study, children were served a test lunch once per week for 6 weeks. Two versions of a macaroni and cheese entrée were formulated to differ in energy density while maintaining similar palatability. Each version was served to children three times. The higher-energy-density entrée had 2.0 kcal/g and the other entrée was 30% lower in energy density. Lunch, consumed ad libitum, also included broccoli, applesauce, and milk.
Main outcome measures
Food intake and energy intake were measured.
A mixed linear model tested effect of energy density of the entrée on food intake and energy intake. Results are reported as mean±standard error.
Decreasing the energy density of the entrée by 30% significantly (P<0.0001) reduced children’s energy intake from the entrée by 25% (72.3±8.3 kcal) and total lunch energy intake by 18% (71.8±7.9 kcal). Children consumed significantly more of the lower-energy-density entrée (10.1±4.2 g; P<0.05). Children’s sex-specific body mass index–for-age percentiles did not affect the relationship between energy density of the entrée and children’s intakes.
Decreasing the energy density of a lunch entrée resulted in a reduction in children’s energy intake from the entrée and from the total meal. Reducing the energy density of foods may be an effective strategy to moderate children’s energy intake.
To read this article in full you will need to make a payment
Purchase one-time access:Academic & Personal: 24 hour online accessCorporate R&D Professionals: 24 hour online access
One-time access price info
- For academic or personal research use, select 'Academic and Personal'
- For corporate R&D use, select 'Corporate R&D Professionals'
Subscribe:Subscribe to Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
Already a print subscriber? Claim online access
Already an online subscriber? Sign in
Register: Create an account
Institutional Access: Sign in to ScienceDirect
- Prevalence of overweight among preschool children in the United States, 1971 through 1994.Pediatrics. 1997; 99: E1
- Prevalence and trends in overweight among US children and adolescents, 1999-2000.JAMA. 2002; 288: 1728-1732
- Prevalence of overweight and obesity among US children, adolescents, and adults, 1999-2002.JAMA. 2004; 291: 2847-2850
- Prevalence of overweight and obesity in the United States, 1999-2004.JAMA. 2006; 295: 1549-1555
- Childhood obesity—A sign of commercial success, but a market failure.Int J Pediatr Obes. 2006; 1: 133-138
- Diet, Nutrition and the Prevention of Chronic Diseases.in: World Health Organization, Geneva, Switzerland2003 (WHO Technical Report Series No. 916.)
- Covert manipulation of dietary fat and energy density: effect on substrate flux and food intake in men eating ad libitum.Am J Clin Nutr. 1995; 62: 316-329
- Energy density of foods affects energy intake in normal-weight women.Am J Clin Nutr. 1998; 67: 412-420
- The effect of covertly manipulating the energy density of mixed diets on ad libitum food intake in ‘pseudo free-living’ humans.Int J Obes. 1998; 22: 980-987
- Energy density but not fat content of foods affected energy intake in lean and obese women.Am J Clin Nutr. 1999; 69: 863-871
- Energy density of foods affects energy intake across multiple levels of fat content in lean and obese women.Am J Clin Nutr. 2001; 73: 1010-1018
- Conditioned and unconditioned caloric compensation: Evidence for self-regulation of food intake in young children.Learn Motiv. 1985; 16: 341-355
- Caloric compensation and sensory specific satiety: Evidence for self-regulation of food intake by young children.Appetite. 1986; 7: 323-331
- “Clean up your plate”: Effects of child feeding practices on the conditioning of meal size.Learn Motiv. 1987; 18: 301-317
- Children’s food intake following drinks sweetened with sucrose or aspartame: Time course effects.Physiol Behav. 1989; 45: 387-395
- Conditioned flavor preferences in young children.Physiol Behav. 1990; 47: 501-505
- Conditioned preferences: Young children prefer flavors associated with high dietary fat.Physiol Behav. 1991; 50: 1245-1251
- Children’s bite size and intake of an entrée are greater with large portions than with age-appropriate or self-selected portions.Am J Clin Nutr. 2003; 77: 1164-1170
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A SAS Program for the CDC Growth Charts. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/nccdphp/dnpa/growthcharts/sas.htm. Accessed June 11, 2007.
- Confirmatory factor analysis of the Child Feeding Questionnaire: A measure of parental attitudes, beliefs and practices about child feeding and obesity proneness.Appetite. 2001; 36: 201-210
- Combined effects of energy density and portion size on energy intake in women.Am J Clin Nutr. 2004; 79: 962-968
- Reductions in portion size and energy density of foods are additive and lead to sustained decreases in energy intake.Am J Clin Nutr. 2006; 83: 11-17
- Children’s lunch intake: Effects of midmorning snacks varying in energy density and fat content.Appetite. 1993; 20: 83-94
- Effects of portion size and energy density on young children’s intake at a meal.Am J Clin Nutr. 2007; 86: 174-179
- Parents’ and children’s adiposity and eating style.Pediatrics. 1994; 94: 653-661
- Parental influences on young girls’ fruit and vegetable, micronutrient, and fat intakes.J Am Diet Assoc. 2002; 102: 58-64
- Young girls’ emerging dietary restraint and disinhibition are related to parental control in child feeding.Appetite. 2000; 35: 121-129
- Parental pressure, dietary patterns, and weight status among girls who are “picky eaters”.J Am Diet Assoc. 2005; 105: 541-548
K. E. Leahy is a doctoral student and B. J. Rolls is a professor and Guthrie Chair, Department of Nutritional Sciences, Pennsylvania State University, University Park.
L. L. Birch is a distinguished professor, Department of Human Development and Family Studies, Pennsylvania State University, University Park; she is also director of the Center for Childhood Obesity Research, Pennsylvania State University, University Park.
© 2008 American Dietetic Association. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.