Published this year in the British Journal of Nutrition, a prospective study of 2,707 middle-aged adult subjects were monitored over a 6 year period for changes in weight, waist and hip circumference in relationship to the energy density of their meals. Weight gain was positively correlated with higher dietary energy density.
Another study followed 186 women over six years to determine if dietary energy density would predict weight gain. The findings were published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Sept 2008, and concluded that higher dietary energy density was associated with increased weight gain and higher BMI over time.
The PREMIER clinical trial of over 600 individuals was a large, multicenter clinical trial that tested several dietary interventions, as part of a comprehensive behavioral intervention to reduce blood pressure. A later re-analysis, published 2007 in the Nutrition Research Newletter, examined “the effect of the dietary interventions used in the PREMIER trial on dietary energy density and investigated whether changes in dietary energy density values over a period of 6 months were related to changes in anthropometric, dietary, and health-related measures.” Although overall weight of the meals increased in those with lowest energy dense diets, “achievement of considerable weight loss was related to reductions in the energy density of the diet.”
The EPIC-Norfolk study was a population-based cohort study originally designed to examine the prospective association between diet and cancer; it now includes other endpoints such as diabetes and heart disease. 20,919 residents of Norfolk, England aged 40-79 years were invited to attend a health checkup from 1993 to 1997. They also completed a detailed health and lifestyle survey that included a validated 130-item food frequency questionnaire. From the responses, the energy and weight of food intake was estimated, and dietary energy density (DED) was calculated as the available dietary energy per unit weight of foods. Participants were followed through 2005. The findings: “subjects who developed diabetes consumed a more energy-dense diet than those who did not.” When broken up into five group (quintiles), it was noted that compared with the lowest quintile of DED, the risk of diabetes was 58% greater among those at the top quintile in the fully adjusted model.
The American Diabetes Association conducted a three year study of 9,688 US adults, published online in January 2007. The researchers concluded, “Dietary energy density is an independent predictor of obesity, elevated fasting insulin levels, and the metabolic syndrome in U.S. adults. Intervention studies to reduce dietary energy density are warranted.”
Dietary energy density is mainly influenced by the consumption of fruits, vegetables, and fat. Fruits and vegetables, which have relatively high water content, decrease the energy density of the diet, because water adds weight but not energy to foods. Similarly, consuming more water than sugary drinks and sodas serve to reduce energy density of meals (when beverages are calculated).
These studies demonstrate that the overall characteristics of the diet may be more important than the quantity of calories or the proportion of individual nutrients consumed.
What is clear, however, is that a diet like that advocated at Alternity Healthcare can help reduce your risks of degenerative disease such as type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity and metabolic syndrome. Our eating plans take dietary energy density and glycemic load
into account. Alternity Healthcare recommends eating six smaller meals daily, composed of approximately 40% carbohydrates, 30% protein and 30% healthy fats. Most of those carbohydrates should come from fruits and vegetables with a small amount of whole grain foods.
Water should be a prominently featured beverage; with a glass or two of red wine on a regular basis.