Response to Energy Dilution in the Short Term: Evidence of Nutritional Wisdom in Young Children?

Nutritional neuroscience

PubMedID: 27414130

Hetherington MM, Wood C, Lyburn SC. Response to Energy Dilution in the Short Term: Evidence of Nutritional Wisdom in Young Children?. Nutr Neurosci. 2016;3(5):321-9.
Young children respond to energy dilution achieved using fat or sugar substitutes by compensating for reduced energy within a single meal. The ability to respond to energy dilution in the short term may diminish with age, since adults do not reliably demonstrate accurate caloric compensation in the short term. Two experiments were conducted to examine caloric compensation across age groups. In Experiment 1,15 young children (2-5 years) and 10 older children (7-10 years) received regular (100 g: 73 kcal) and low-calorie (100 g: 6 kcal) raspberry gelatin dessert as a mid-morning snack on two test days separated by at least 2 weeks. Young children demonstrated caloric compensation by consuming more following the low-calorie snack (571. 3 ± 48. 8 kcal) than after the regular snack (487. 7 ± 31. 5 kcal). Older children failed to adjust intake in response to the difference in energy. In Experiment 2, a similar procedure was used but young children (n = 19) received 150 g of raspberry gelatin dessert (9 kcal vs. 109 kcal) and older children (n = 12) received 225 g of gelatin dessert (13 kcal vs. 164 kcal). The compensation index (COMPX) indicated that young children (88. 1 ± 22. 4%) compensated better than older children (21. 5 ± 21. 9%). Short-term caloric compensation may diminish with age, possibly reflecting a transition from using unlearned internal cues to a more adult pattern of eating influenced by external cues and learning.