Excess weight gain occurs when more calories are consumed than expended over a long period of time. Accurate translation between changes in calories and changes in weight is important for setting goals and for evaluating interventions at both the individual and population levels. For years, a simple rule of thumb has been used for predicting weight change: 3,500 calories equals one pound of body weight change. However, emerging research demonstrates that the math is not that straightforward, and the 3,500-calorie rule will create overly optimistic predictions of weight loss, oftentimes being in error by many fold. This brief presents new mathematical models that can be used to calculate the impact of calories on body weight in both adults and children, and several useful rules of thumb that can estimate changes at the population level. These models suggest that the obesity epidemic was driven by much larger changes in calorie intake than previously believed and will require aggressive strategies to reverse.
From Calories to Weight Change in Children and Adults: The State of the Science
The first 1,000 days, or the period from conception through age 2, is increasingly recognized as a critical period for the development of childhood obesity and its adverse consequences. This issue brief is based on two review papers that examined evidence on risk factors for developing childhood obesity and interventions … More
The healthfulness of foods and beverages found in retail food stores differs widely across the United States, both by location of the store as well as by store type. Some communities have limited access to stores that carry healthful staple foods such as fruits and vegetables, whole grain-rich foods, and … More
U.S. states have introduced bills requiring sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) to display health warning labels. This study examined how warning labels influence parents and which labels are most effective. Over 2,000 demographically and educationally diverse parents of children ages 6 to 11 participated in an online survey. Parents were randomized to … More