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High-Volume Eating continued...

Reducing the calorie density of foods was associated with a 23% decrease in calories eaten per day, while decreasing portion sizes lowered overall calories by 12%. And the calorie reduction was found to be the same on day two as day one, suggesting that the women were not compensating for eating less by eating more later on.

Although weight loss was not considered in the study, the reduction of 800 calories per day likely would result in a weight loss of about a pound and a half over the course of a week.

"These women were satisfied with the amount of food they were eating, and their diets were healthier too," Rolls says.

Sound, But No Magic Bullet

Dietitian Elisabetta Politi, RD, says the principles behind the Penn State eating plan are sound, but she adds that the approach does not appear to be a magic bullet for weight loss.

"Unfortunately, the foods that we are exposed to tend to be very calorie-dense," she says. "So while this approach works well in a controlled situation, it is not as easy to follow in the real world where the temptations are so great."

Rolls agrees, adding that the food industry is a big target of her latest research.

"Small changes in energy density and/or portion size can add up to big changes in the long run for consumers," she says. "People are going to eat the portions that are put in front of them. But we showed that you can make foods healthier and reduce calories and the changes won't be noticed."

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