Low-energy-density diets are associated with higher diet quality and higher diet costs in French adults

Adam Drewnowski, Pablo Monsivais, Matthieu Maillot, Nicole Darmon
Journal of the American Dietetic Association 2007, 107 (6): 1028-32
Low-energy-density diets are often recommended for weight control. Such diets have a higher nutrient content than do high-energy-density diets. This study tested the hypothesis that energy-dense diets have a relatively low monetary cost, whereas less energy-dense diets are more expensive. In this cross-sectional study, dietary intakes of 1,474 French adults (672 men, 802 women), aged 15 to 92 years, were assessed using 7-day diet records. Dietary energy density (kcal/g) was calculated by dividing total dietary energy by the edible weight of foods and caloric beverages consumed. Diet cost ($/7 days or $/2,000 kcal) was estimated using mean national food prices for 895 foods. The relationship between dietary energy density and diet cost was examined in a linear regression model. Within each quintile of energy intakes, the more energy-dense diets were associated with lower diet quality and with lower diet costs (r(2)=0.38 to 0.44). In a regression model, the more energy-dense diets cost less, whereas low-energy-density diets cost substantially more, adjusting for energy intakes, sex, and age. The finding that energy-dense diets cost less per 2,000 kcal may help explain why the highest rates of obesity are observed among groups of limited economic means. The finding that low-energy-density diets are associated with higher diet costs suggests that lasting improvements in diet quality may require economic as well as behavioral interventions.

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