Two new Penn State studies show that people who pursue a healthy, low-fat, low-energy-density diet that includes more water-rich foods, such as fruits and vegetables, consume more food but weigh less than people who eat a more energy-dense diet.


Dr. Barbara Rolls, who holds the Guthrie Chair of Nutrition in Penn State’s College of Health and Human Development, directed the studies. She says, “In one of the studies, we looked at the eating patterns of 7,500 men and women who constituted a representative sample of American adults. In the other study, 101 obese women were counseled to increase their intake of water-rich foods and to select reduced-fat foods rather than full-fat ones. In both cases eating more low-energy-dense, water-rich foods, such as fruits and vegetables, was associated with lower body weights. “Decreasing the energy density of your diet by choosing more low-energy-dense foods, such as fruits and vegetables, can be a successful strategy to lose weight without counting calories or fat grams,” she adds.



Both studies were detailed today, Wednesday, Nov. 17, at the annual meeting of the North American Association for the Study of Obesity in Las Vegas, Nevada.



Dr. Jenny H. Ledikwe, postdoctoral fellow in nutritional epidemiology, conducted the study in which she looked at the diet patterns of 7,500 typical Americans. She calculated the average daily energy density of their intake using two 24-hour recalls from the 1994-96 U.S. Department of Agriculture Continuing Survey of Food Intakes by Individuals. She then compared the participants with low, medium and high energy density (ED) diets.



Ledikwe found that despite the fact that the people in the low energy density group ate a greater weight of food than those in the high energy density group, they consumed fewer calories and weighed less. She notes, “Individuals who ate low-fat, high-fiber diets rich in fruits and vegetables weighed less, consumed more food and had healthier eating patterns.”



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