If losing weight was part of your 2023 resolutions, findings from researchers at the University of Kansas and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) could provide clearer guidance about the foods you’re putting on your plate.
Using data from previous studies, the researchers sought to determine which characteristics of meals were important in determining the number of calories consumed. They found that three meal characteristics consistently led to increased calorie intake across four different diets: meal energy density (i.e. calories per gram of food), food quantity” super appetizing” and the speed with which the meals were consumed. Protein content of meals also contributed to caloric intake, but its effect was more variable.
First described by KU scientist Tera Fazzino in 2019, hyper-appetizing foods contain specific combinations of fat, sugar, sodium and carbohydrates – think potato chips – that make them artificially rewarding to eat and more hard to stop using.
“We wanted to know how the hyper-appetizing characteristics of foods, combined with other factors, influence the number of calories a person consumes in a meal,” said Fazzino, associate director of the Cofrin Logan Center for Addiction Research and Treatment at KU. Life Span Institute and Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychology at KU.
Fazzino, in collaboration with researchers from the NIH’s National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, wrote in the journal natural food this hyper-palestancy increased the amount of energy consumed in four diets: low carbohydrate, low fat, a diet based on unprocessed foods and a diet based on ultra-processed foods.
Dietary recommendations for weight management could be informed by understanding how certain foods make people eat fewer calories without making them hungry. People are often advised to avoid energy-dense foods, such as cookies or cheese, which can lead to passive overeating. Instead, foods with low energy density – such as spinach, carrots and apples – are often advised. But foods characterized as super appetizing may be less familiar to people, and they may unknowingly add them to their plate.
While super-appetizing foods are sometimes also energy-dense, the new study suggests that these super-appetizing foods contribute independently to the caloric intake of meals. Fazzino said the findings add to a growing body of research that shows hyperpalatism plays a role in the food choices people make and their weight.
“We hope to gain insights into hyper-palatable foods so that individuals can take them into account when making food choices, and we hope that scientists will continue to examine hyper-palatant characteristics as a potential factor influencing intake. energy,” she said.
Reference: “Energy intake from ad libitum meals is positively influenced by energy density, feeding rate, and hyperpalatable foods in four diets” by Tera L. Fazzino, Amber B. Courville, Juen Guo, and Kevin D Hall, January 30, 2023, natural food.
Fazzino co-authored the findings in natural food with researchers Kevin Hall, Amber Courville and Jen Guo of Who funds National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK).