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Ad libitum meal energy intake is positively influenced by energy density, eating rate and hyper-palatable food across four dietary patterns


Diets for the prevention and treatment of obesity are often informed by theories about food characteristics believed to support spontaneous reductions in ad libitum energy intake without inducing hunger. Here we estimated how energy density, hyper-palatability, protein content and eating rate affected ad libitum energy intake of 2,733 meals from four dietary patterns. Energy density, eating rate and hyper-palatable foods were consistently positively related to meal energy intake across all diets. Protein content was positively related to meal energy intake during ultraprocessed and unprocessed diets but was not significantly related to energy intake of minimally processed low-fat or low-carbohydrate meals.

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This work was supported by the Intramural Research Program of the National Institutes of Health, National Institute of Diabetes & Digestive & Kidney Diseases.

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Authors and Affiliations



T.L.F. and K.D.H. conceptualized these secondary analyses. Data were assembled by A.B.C., and J.G. analysed the data. All authors contributed to writing the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Kevin D. Hall.

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The authors declare no competing interests.

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Nature Food thanks Kees de Graaf, Lewis James, Faidon Magkos and the other, anonymous, reviewer for their contribution to the peer review of this work.

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Supplementary Fig. 1 and Tables 1–6.

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Fazzino, T.L., Courville, A.B., Guo, J. et al. Ad libitum meal energy intake is positively influenced by energy density, eating rate and hyper-palatable food across four dietary patterns. Nat Food 4, 144–147 (2023).

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