Obese as likely as lean women to feel full on low energy density meals

University Park, Pa. ---In a recent eating study at Penn State, obese women were just as likely as lean women to hardly notice when they ate 450 calories less as long as their meals contained lots of fruits, vegetables or grains to bulk up the servings and lower the energy density or number of calories per ounce.

Four hundred and fifty calories less a day are enough to enable someone to lose as much as a pound a week. Yet, despite this large reduction in calories consumed when they were served the low energy density meals, the women reported only slightly more hunger (7 percent) and slightly less fullness (5 percent) after eating. There was no difference in the ratings by obese and lean women.

"These results offer further evidence that adopting a low energy density approach to eating can make it easier to manage your weight," says Elizabeth A. Bell, doctoral candidate in nutrition, who conducted the study as part of her dissertation research.

Bell will present her results Monday, Oct. 30, in a paper, "Energy Density Influences Energy Intake Across Varying Levels of Fat Content in Both Lean and Obese Women," at the North American Association for the Study of Obesity annual meeting in Long Beach, Calif. Her co-authors are Liane S. Roe, research nutritionist, and her dissertation adviser, Dr. Barbara Rolls, who holds the Guthrie Chair in Nutrition in Penn State's College of Health and Human Development.

The researchers also looked at the effect of the fat content of the meals. As in previous studies conducted by Rolls' research group, the study showed that the fat content of the meal didn't influence how much the participants ate or how satisfied they felt.

Rolls says, "We've seen repeatedly in our studies that people eat about the same amount of food each day and, if they consume less than they are used to, they feel hungry. Fat can make food taste good but it doesn't necessarily make you feel full. Eating the portion s

Contact: Barbara Hale
Penn State

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