Confusion on all sides of the calorie equation: Lessons learned, future directions

Academic Article


  • The high prevalence of overweight and obesity in the United States has increased attention to the importance of balancing calories in and out to achieve and maintain a healthy weight. Numerous policy and educational efforts are aimed at helping consumers achieve calorie balance. Still, a calorie disconnect exists as consumers remain largely unaware of personal calorie needs or the relationship between calories and weight management. A key first step in addressing consumers' calorie confusion may be to familiarize them with their "daily calorie number," or the amount of calories that are needed to maintain weight, and how that daily calorie number is impacted by physical activity. The need to individualize calorie balance communications is essential, as each person has a unique weight management profile that will be impacted by many factors, including age, physical activity, and desired weight outcome. Whereas some Americans would like to maintain weight and prevent further weight gain, many others would likely benefit from tipping the calorie balance equation to achieve successful weight loss. To effectively communicate calorie balance, it is imperative to examine consumer response to calorie balance communications. Some messages or terminology, although widely accepted by nutrition and health professionals, may not be understood by consumers. The social-ecological model is a useful framework to further examine factors that impact behavior change related to food and physical activity decisions, providing opportunities for future research and initiatives aimed at helping consumers achieve calorie balance. © 2013 Wolters Kluwer Health | Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.
  • Published In

  • Nutrition Today  Journal
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Kapsak WR; Dimarco-Crook C; Hill JO; Toner CD; Edge MS
  • Start Page

  • 195
  • End Page

  • 202
  • Volume

  • 48