Br J Nutr. 2022 Aug 1:1-21. doi: 10.1017/S0007114522002197. Online ahead of print.
Increasing the availability of lower energy food options is a promising public health approach. However, it is unclear the extent to which availability interventions may result in consumers later ‘compensating’ for reductions in energy intake caused by selecting lower energy food options, and to what extent these effects may differ based on socioeconomic position (SEP). Our objective was to examine the impact of increasing availability of lower energy meal options on immediate meal energy intake and subsequent energy intake in participants of higher vs. lower SEP. In a within-subjects design N=77 UK adults ordered meals from a supermarket ready meal menu with standard (30%) and increased (70%) availability of lower energy options. The meals were delivered to be consumed at home, with meal intake measured using the Digital Photography of Foods Method. Post-meal compensation was measured using food diaries to determine self-reported energy intake after the meal and the next day. Participants consumed significantly less energy (196kcal, 95% CI: 138, 252) from the menu with increased availability of lower energy options versus the standard availability menu (p<.001). There was no statistically significant evidence that this reduction in energy intake was substantially compensated for (33% compensated, p=.57). The effects of increasing availability of lower energy food items were similar in participants from lower and higher SEP. Increasing the availability of lower energy food options is likely to be an effective and equitable approach to reducing energy intake which may contribute to improving diet and population health.