The effect of portion size and energy density on energy intake in preschool children

Open Access
Author:
Mcconnell, Hannah Marie
Area of Honors:
Nutritional Sciences
Degree:
Bachelor of Science
Document Type:
Thesis
Thesis Supervisors:
  • Barbara Jean Rolls, Thesis Supervisor
  • Rebecca L Corwin, Honors Advisor
Keywords:
  • portion size
  • energy density
  • nutrition
  • energy intake
Abstract:
Background: Studies on the effects of portion size (PS) and energy density (ED) on energy intake (EI) in children are not as common as studies in adults, and the few studies that have been done on children have had inconsistent results. This study will further explore the effects of PS and ED on energy intake in preschool children. Children's dietary intake should be better understood so that strategies can be developed to help reduce children’s energy intake in order to reduce childhood overweight and obesity. Objective: To test the interaction between portion size and energy density on pre-school children’s energy intake Subjects: Subjects were 2- to 6-year-old children (n=51) in university daycare facilities. Intervention: In this crossover study, preschool children were served a test lunch once a week for 6 weeks. The lunches were either high-ED or low-ED (100% or 142%) and included three different portion sizes (100%, 150%, or 200%). The test foods included macaroni and cheese, chicken, a vegetable, applesauce, and ketchup and were eaten ad libitum. Main outcome measures: Food intake (grams) and energy intake (kcal) were measured. Statistical analysis: A mixed-linear model tested the effect of portion size and energy density on food intake and energy intake. Results are reported as mean ± standard error. Results: Meal food intake by weight was significantly influenced by portion size but not by energy density. Doubling the portion size increased food intake by 33% (68.5 g) and energy intake by 27% (60 kcal). The high-ED meal increased energy intake by 42% (94 kcal). Portion size and energy density together increased total intake by 174±21 kcal or 89%. Food intake and energy intake were not affected by children’s age or sex. Conclusions: Portion size and energy density are independent and additive in increasing energy intake in preschool children. Reducing portion size and energy density may be an effective strategy to promote healthy weight and weight management in children.