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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Reductions in entree energy density increase children's vegetable intake and reduce energy intake

item Leahy, Kathleen
item Birch, Leann
item Fisher, Jennifer
item Rolls, Barbara

Submitted to: Obesity
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 3/22/2008
Publication Date: 7/1/2008
Citation: Leahy, K.E., Birch, L.L., Fisher, J.O., Rolls, B.J. 2008. Reductions in entree energy density increase children's vegetable intake and reduce energy intake. Obesity. 16(7):1559-1565.

Interpretive Summary: Relationships have been found between reducing the calorie content (energy density) of foods and, in turn, the caloric, or energy, intake of a meal. This study looked at how reducing the energy desity and portion size of foods affects energy intake. In a sample of 3- to 5-year-olds, the participants were served a high-density entree, or one reduced in calories by 25%. Parents completed a questionnaire on feeding practices. Children who were served the high-density entree had 25% more food intake than did children who received the low-density entree, but changing the portion size did not effect energy intake. Reducing the energy density of the entree did not affect intake of other food items offered at the lunch. Children whose mothers scored low on pressuring their child to eat had higher energy intakes.

Technical Abstract: The energy density (ED; kcal/g) of an entrée influences children's energy intake (EI), but the effect of simultaneously changing both ED and portion size of an entrée on preschool children's EI is unknown. In this within-subject crossover study, 3- to 5-year-old children (30 boys, 31 girls) in a daycare facility were served a test lunch once/week for 4 weeks. The amount and type of vegetables and cheeses incorporated into the sauce of a pasta entrée were manipulated to create two versions that varied in ED by 25% (1.6 or 1.2 kcal/g). Across the weeks, each version of the entrée was served to the children in each of two portion sizes (400 or 300 g). Lunch, consumed ad libitum, also included carrots, applesauce, and milk. Decreasing ED of the entrée by 25% significantly (P < 0.0001), reduced children's EI of the entrée by 25% (63.1 8.3 kcal), and EI at lunch by 17% (60.7 8.9 kcal). Increasing the proportion of vegetables in the pasta entrée increased children's vegetable intake at lunch by half of a serving of vegetables (P < 0.01). Decreasing portion size of the entrée by 25% did not significantly affect children's total food intake or EI at lunch. Therefore, reducing the ED of a lunch entrée resulted in a reduction in children's EI from the entrée and from the meal in both portion size conditions. Decreasing ED by incorporating more vegetables into recipes is an effective way of reducing children's EI, while increasing their vegetable intake.

Last Modified: 10/17/2017
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