The Combined Effects of Macronutrients and Energy Density on Energy Intake

There has recently been considerable debate as to whether the effects of diet composition on EI can be simply explained in terms of dietary energy density. Here energy density is defined as the metabolizable energy per unit weight of ready to eat food. The major determinants of dietary energy density are water and fat, with water having the greatest effect. In general the energy density of ready to eat foods is largely determined by a fat-water seesaw, with energy density falling as the water content of food rises and as the fat content of foods falls. Protein and carbohydrate contribute relatively little to dietary energy density. There is considerable scope for technological developments that can alter the energy density of foods without compromising palatability.

Energy density exerts profound effects in constraining EI in short-to-medium term studies. Subjects behave differently in longer-term interventions because they learn to adjust their feeding behavior. Energy density is a factor, which at high levels can facilitate excess EI, and at low levels constrains EI. However, the effects that dietary energy density may exert on appetite and EI should be considered in the context of other nutritional and non-nutritional determinants of EI rather than as a substitute for those considerations.

Multifactor models appear more appropriate to explain nutritional determinants of feeding since they explain a far greater proportion of the variance in EI than single nutrient-based models (see Figure 6).

Figure 6 Pie charts illustrating the percentage of the variability in energy intake ascribable to different sources in 102 subjects self recording their food intake for 7 consecutive days. Approximately 39% of the variability was due to diet and ~40% was due to intersubject variability. These two major sources of variation are subdivided further. These charts clearly illustrate that the determinants of energy intake in human adults is multi-factorial. ED, energy density.

CHO

u

Protein

Fat

% ED

% Water

Alcohol

Figure 6 Pie charts illustrating the percentage of the variability in energy intake ascribable to different sources in 102 subjects self recording their food intake for 7 consecutive days. Approximately 39% of the variability was due to diet and ~40% was due to intersubject variability. These two major sources of variation are subdivided further. These charts clearly illustrate that the determinants of energy intake in human adults is multi-factorial. ED, energy density.

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