28. February 2005 · Comments Off on Eat More – Weigh Less · Categories: General

Forget low-fat or low-carb. The latest big thing in dieting in Volumetrics:

Welcome to Pennsylvania State University’s Laboratory for the Study of Human Ingestive Behavior, one of the world’s most sophisticated centers for the study of what and how humans eat. The queen of this quirky culinary empire is Barbara Rolls, professor and Guthrie chair in nutrition at the university. For nearly three decades, Rolls, 60, has researched food choices, portion sizes, the caloric or energy density of foods, and myriad other factors that influence the human appetite and what satisfies it.

Most recently, the lab has been studying the impact of energy or calorie density–that is, the number of calories in a given weight of food–on satiety and weight control. Rolls calls this research “Volumetrics,” and her new book, The Volumetrics Eating Plan, arrives in bookstores this week. Part weight-control program, part cookbook, it is an effort to put into practical form a lifetime of study on why people eat what they do and how to satisfy the human biological drive for abundant food while achieving a healthy weight.


Paradigm. If the majority of the public, outside of a few weight-control programs, has been oblivious to the role energy density could play in cleaning up the American diet, so have many nutritional scientists. “This is a paradigm shift,” agrees Gary Foster, clinical director of the Weight and Eating Disorders Program at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. Volumetrics is “an overarching concept, less based on macronutrients, though clearly, high-fat foods have higher energy density. It’s a more unifying approach to diet, and there are data to support it.” The downside, Foster says, is that energy density is not listed on food labels. Rolls hopes that will change: “If we had an energy-density number on food labels, it would give people an immediate way to compare foods and the calories in a portion.”

“My sense is people are becoming disenchanted with a low-carbohydrate diet, which is a high-energy-dense diet,” says Columbia University’s Xavier Pi-Sunyer, a member of the dietary guidelines advisory committee and director of the Obesity Research Center at St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital Center. “So this would be a return to a lower-energy-density diet. And that is in line with the new guidelines.”

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