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

ize or volume of food that you usually do is the key to feeling satisfied."In the current study, 17 obese and 19 lean women, ages 18 to 45 years, spent 12 hours one day each week for six weeks at the Penn State Laboratory for the Study of Human Ingestive Behavior where they ate all of their meals and an evening snack. The meals and snacks offered were either low or high energy density and the fat content was kept in ranges typical of the American diet, either 25 percent of calories from fat, 35 percent or 45 percent. The women were free to eat as much as they wanted of all of the entrees.

During each of the six sessions, meals included the following, along with small side dishes: cheese strata for breakfast, taco salad for lunch, pasta with cheese and veggies for dinner, and warm apple crisp for the evening snack. The low energy density versions of these entrees were prepared, for example, by substituting vegetables and fruits for some of the bread, pasta or other grain products and by using low fat versions of the high fat ingredients. Differences in appearance, taste and texture of the entrees were hard to detect and the women reported that they liked the entrees across all conditions.

When the women were served the low energy density meals, they ate about 450 calories less than when they were served high energy density meals even though their portion sizes remained about the same as when they ate the high energy density versions. They didn't feel excessive hunger. In short, they felt full on fewer calories.

Bell notes, "These results show, once again, that people don't have to restrict portion sizes and, in some cases, may even be able to eat more if they reduce the energy density of their meals."

"If you reduce fat content, you also usually reduce energy density. However, it's not safe to assume that every reduced fat food is also reduced in calories," she adds. "It's also important when selecting foods to pay attention to the e

Contact: Barbara Hale
Penn State

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