Achieving and maintaining a healthy body weight can be challenging. A person must sustain a careful balance between calories consumed and energy expended in order to maintain his or her recommended body weight and must consume fewer calories than expended in order to lose weight. To reverse the current U.S. trend toward overweight and obesity, many Americans need to consume fewer calories and be more active.
Americans have used many dietary strategies to consume fewer calories including limiting portion sizes, food groups, or certain macronutrients such as carbohydrates or fats. While these strategies can help moderate calorie intake, particularly during the short-term, they do have limitations. These approaches may compromise diet quality or cause feelings of hunger and dissatisfaction, which can limit their acceptability, sustainability, and long-term effectiveness. The research in this brief supports an alternative strategy for managing calorie intake based on encouraging people to eat more foods that are low in calories for a given measure—that is, are low in energy density (kcal/g).