Diet-Energy DensityFiberObesity

Benefits of a lower energy dense breakfast

The concept of energy density can help you feel satisfied with fewer calories, according to

In this study, eating a lower energy density breakfast was associated with better weight control.

First, the details.

  • The breakfast choices and dietary patterns of 12,000 adults were analyzed.
  • Researchers compared the energy density for all reported breakfasts vs total 24-hour diets among both breakfast eaters and non-eaters.

And, the results.

  • The energy density of food eaten over 24 hours was lower among breakfast eaters vs non-breakfast eaters.
  • Women who ate breakfast (but not men) had significantly lower BMI than non-breakfast eaters — but not by much (BMI = 28 vs 29, respectively).
  • As the energy density of the breakfast increased, the energy density and fat intake of the other meals in the day increased, while micronutrient intake and the likelihood of including all 5 food groups in the diet declined.
  • As breakfast energy density increased, so did BMI in men.
  • In women, increased BMI was associated with the energy density of the other meals during the day.

The bottom line?
Based on their findings, the researchers encourage eating breakfast. They conclude that the energy density of breakfast is associated with diet quality, overall diet energy density, and body weight.

2 companies heavily invested in eating breakfast — Quaker and Tropicana — sponsored the study. It’s not surprising then that the researchers view breakfast as a predictor of dietary choices throughout the day.

I think it’s just as likely that breakfast is simply a reflection of a person’s overall knowledge of healthy dietary choices and eating habits. Would the results have been the same if the energy density of lunch or dinner was substituted for breakfast?

Examples of foods that provide more nutrients per calorie (low energy density) include high-fiber foods such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. has a related review here.

11/13/08 18:35 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.