“A calorie is a calorie” is an oft-repeated dietary slogan, and not overeating is indeed an important health measure. Rather than focusing on calories alone, however, emerging research shows that quality is also key in determining what we should eat and what we should avoid in order to achieve and maintain a healthy weight. Rather than choosing foods based only on caloric value, think instead about choosing high-quality, healthy foods, and minimizing low-quality foods."
"Overall, our analysis showed divergent relationships between specific foods or beverages and long-term weight gain, suggesting that dietary quality (the types of foods and beverages consumed) influences dietary quantity (total calories). "
"Because efforts to lose weight pose tremendous challenges, primary prevention of weight gain is a global priority. Since weight stability requires a balance between calories consumed and calories expended, the advice to “eat less and exercise more” would seem to be straightforward. "
"Some foods — vegetables, nuts, fruits, and whole grains — were associated with less weight gain when consumption was actually increased. Obviously, such foods provide calories and cannot violate thermodynamic laws. Their inverse associations with weight gain suggest that the increase in their consumption reduced the intake of other foods to a greater (caloric) extent, decreasing the overall amount of energy consumed. "
"Temporal trends render our findings especially relevant: between 1965 and 2002, U.S. beverage consumption increased from 11.8 to 21.0% of all calories consumed — 222 more kilocalories per person per day — with sugar-sweetened beverages and alcohol accounting for 60% and 32% of the increase, respectively."
Our study has some limitations. Although dietary questionnaires specified portion sizes, residual, unmeasured differences in portion sizes among participants might account for additional independent effects on energy balance. For example, an average, large baked potato contains 278 calories, as compared with 500 to 600 calories for a large serving of french fries.
"In addition, our findings were broadly consistent with cross-sectional national trends with respect to diet and obesity: between 1971 and 2004, the average dietary intake of calories in the United States increased by 22% among women and by 10% among men, primarily owing to the increased consumption of refined carbohydrates, starches, and sugar-sweetened beverages."
"Our findings suggest that both individual and population-based strategies to help people consume fewer calories may be most effective when particular foods and beverages are targeted for decreased (or increased) consumption. "