Purpose of Review
In accordance with US dietary guidance, incorporating variety into the diet can align with energy balance, though greater food variety in some categories may make energy balance more challenging. Thus, experimental and epidemiologic evidence is summarized on the relationship between food variety, food and energy intake, and energy balance.
Lab-based, experimental research consistently demonstrates that greater variety within foods or sensory characteristics of food increases food and energy intake within an eating occasion. Epidemiologic evidence is less consistent, potentially driven by differing methodologies, particularly in defining and measuring food variety. Moreover, the effect of variety on energy balance appears to be moderated by food energy density.
Integrating insights from experimental and epidemiologic research are essential for strengthening food variety guidance including developing evidence-based definitions of food variety, understanding moderators of the relationship, and developing practical guidance interpretable to consumers.
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Conflict of Interest
Hollie A. Raynor has received funding from Weight Watchers International for a multisite RCT and for examining dietary variety in a RCT that was not funded by Weight Watchers International and also received compensation from Slimming World for participating on the scientific advisory board.
Maya Vadiveloo declares that she has no conflict of interest.
Human and Animal Rights and Informed Consent
This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects performed by any of the authors.
Hollie A. Raynor and Maya Vadiveloo are Co-First Author
This article is part of the Topical Collection on Psychological Issues
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Raynor, H.A., Vadiveloo, M. Understanding the Relationship Between Food Variety, Food Intake, and Energy Balance. Curr Obes Rep 7, 68–75 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s13679-018-0298-7