ChildrenDiet-Energy Density

Reducing the energy density of childrens’ diets

 Researchers from The Pennsylvania State University at University Park studied the effect of reducing the energy density (ED) of multiple meals on the dietary choices of preschool-age children.

First, the details.

  • 26 children, 3- to 5-years-old, were served prepared breakfasts, lunches, and afternoon snacks 2 days/week for 2 weeks.
  • 2 diets were followed
    • Foods and beverages during 1 week were low in ED.
    • Meals served during the other week were higher in ED.
  • ED reductions were achieved by decreasing fat and sugar and by increasing fruit and vegetables.
  • Dinner and an evening snack were sent home with children, but these meals did not vary in ED.
  • All children received both meals — crossover study

And, the results.

  • Children ate a consistent weight of foods and beverages over 2 days in both diets.
  • Therefore, their energy consumption declined by 389 kcal (14%) while eating the lower-ED diet — a significant decrease.
  • Differences in energy intake were significant at breakfast on day 1 and accumulated significantly with the lower ED meals over 2 days.
  • The intake of other foods was similar between conditions.

The bottom line?
The authors concluded, “Reducing the ED of the diet is an effective strategy for moderating children’s energy intake.”

OK, but am I the only one that thinks this is common sense?

The challenge is to get children (and adults) to recognize healthy foods that are low in ED. Then, they must make a commitment to change their diet and finally, adhere to those healthier choices long term.

The Volumetrics Eating Plan
by Dr. Barbara Rolls is a starting point.

12/8/08 19:05 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.