Eat more weigh less
The answer may lie in the new science of 'volumetrics'
The grocery bill for a week of Volumetrics meals may be higher, says Adam Drewnowski, director of the Nutritional Sciences Program at the University of Washington. "On a per-calorie basis, fruits, vegetables, fish, lean protein, and low-fat dairy products are more expensive sources of pure calories. But we spend so little on food and so much on our cellphones; it really should be the other way around." Drewnowski is an advocate of a diet based on its nutrient density. "But Barbara and I end up in the same place--eating more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, water, and fiber-rich foods, which are nutrient dense."
Foster, Drewnowski, and Pi-Sunyer, like Rolls herself, would like to see Volumetrics and the energy-density concept fully evaluated in long-term clinical trials. "Let's roll this out now to three or four different centers," says Foster, "and see how it works for 300 to 400 people."
A longtime practitioner of Volumetrics, Rolls herself is slim. She swims every day in a lap pool at her house on a mountaintop near the university, walks on campus, takes the stairs instead of the elevator, and encourages people to use step counters to monitor their activity. A past president of the North American Association for the Study of Obesity, Rolls is no ascetic, however. She loves good food, and as she puts it, "I save my juice calories for wine." She and her partner of seven years, Charles Brueggbors, an architect turned foodie, developed the recipes in the book. Brueggbors came to a Volumetrics diet before he met Rolls, after consulting a dietitian some 15 years ago when he developed hypertension and a spare tire. "I still want chips; I still want sausage," Brueggbors says. "But I've learned to like the fresh veggies and low-fat foods, too. And so now I have chips, but I get a bowl, put in a small amount, and when it's gone, I just don't go back."
It's lunchtime, and the first volunteer diner enters the laboratory and is seated in a curtained booth. He's told he may take his plate to the buffet, get as much as he wants, and go back as often as he wants for any of the four dishes: a chicken and noodle casserole; a creamy, green bean and fried onion dish; a broccoli salad; and whipped sweet potatoes. Most diet programs recommend using a small plate to reduce calories in a meal. "We're not finding it's true," says Rolls. "People just go back for more."
Rolls watches on a video monitor as the man makes his way to the buffet table for the third time, piling the noodle casserole and the green bean and onion rings concoction onto his small plate. "Look at that," Rolls laments. "He's not even touching the broccoli salad."
Clearly, we have a long way to go.