Research Article

Energy-dense diets are associated with lower diet costs: a community study of French adults

Nicole Darmona1, André Brienda2 and Adam Drewnowskia3a4 c1

a1 Unité INSERM 557, Conservatoire National des Arts et Métiers, ISTNA, 2 rue Conté, F-75003 , Paris, France

a2 Institut de Recherche pour le Développement, F-75010, Paris, France

a3 Nutritional Sciences Program, School of Public Health and Community Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98115, USA

a4 Correspondence address: 305 Raitt Hall, Box 353410, University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98195, USA


Objective: High consumption of energy-dense foods has been linked to high energy intakes and excess weight gain. This study tested the hypothesis that high energy density of the total diet is associated with lower diet costs.

Design: Dietary intakes of 837 French adults, aged 18–76 years, were assessed using a dietary history method. Dietary energy density (MJ kg−1) was calculated by dividing total energy by the edible weight of foods consumed. Daily diet cost (€day−1) was estimated using mean national food prices for 57 food items. The relationship between dietary energy density and diet cost at each level of energy intake was examined in a regression model, adjusted for gender and age.

Results: The more energy-dense refined grains, sweets and fats provided energy at a lower cost than did lean meats, vegetables and fruit. Within each quintile of energy intake, diets of lower energy density (MJ kg−1) were associated with higher diet costs (€day−1).

Conclusion: In this observational study, energy-dense diets cost less whereas energy-dilute diets cost more, adjusting for energy intakes. The finding that energy-dilute diets are associated with higher diet costs has implications for dietary guidelines and current strategies for dietary change.

(Received March 03 2003)

(Accepted June 25 2003)


c1 *Corresponding author: Email