A medium-term intervention study on the impact of high- and low-fat snacks varying in sweetness and fat content: large shifts in daily fat intake but good compensation for daily energy intake

C L Lawton, H J Delargy, F C Smith, V Hamilton, J E Blundell
British Journal of Nutrition 1998, 80 (2): 149-61
Thirty-six normal-weight, habitual snackers (eighteen males, eighteen females) completed a medium-term intervention study designed to examine the tendency of four different types of snacks, varying in nutrient (low- (LF) or high-fat (HF) and sensory properties (sweet (SW) or non-sweet (NSW)), to influence the control of appetite and to adjust daily energy intake. Subjects were exposed to each snack category for a 3-week period and were asked to consume a minimum number of snacks each day so that at least 25% of their daily energy intake would be derived from the test snacks. Energy and macronutrient intakes from the test snacks were calculated every day and also from other eating episodes (using 3 d food diary records) during the third week of snack exposure. Subjects consumed more energy/d from the SW snacks than from the NSW snacks, with most energy being consumed from the HF/SW snacks (3213 kJ) and least energy from the LF/NSW snacks (1628 kJ). This differential snack intake remained stable across the whole snack exposure period. Total daily energy intake did not differ significantly during exposure to any of the four snack types. Furthermore, the encouragement to eat freely from the test snacks did not lead to daily overconsumption of energy when compared with pre-study intakes. Hence, the level of snack consumption was largely compensated for by the energy consumed from the rest of the eating pattern. Although daily energy intake during exposure to the HF snacks was an average of 364 kJ higher (NS) than that during exposure to the LF snacks, the clearest and most significant effect of snack consumption was on daily macronutrient intake. Appreciable consumption of the HF snacks raised the percentage of total daily energy intake consumed as fat from 37 to 41% (P < 0.01). In contrast, the LF snacks reduced daily fat intake to 33.5% (LF/SW, P < 0.05; LF/NSW, NS) of total daily energy. The results, therefore, suggest that, in habitual snackers, generous consumption of LF snacks, when compared with HF snacks, is an effective strategy to reduce fat intake so that it approaches the recommendations of dietary guidelines without increasing total daily energy intake.

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