Lt Col Reynolds
Diet directly affects energy balance because it determines the number of calories that the body takes in. If the calories taken in from food and drink aren’t used through physical activity, the result is a lack of energy balance.

Lt Col Phillips
Let’s check in with Dr. Bethea, to find out more about diet and obesity.

Dr. Bethea
Thank you, Dr. Phillips. The body needs six nutrients to stay healthy, including:

  • Carbohydrates
  • Proteins
  • Fats
  • Minerals
  • Vitamins, and
  • Water

Of these nutrients, carbohydrates, proteins, and fats provide calories. Carbohydrates and proteins each provide four calories per gram, while fats provide nine calories per gram. That means foods high in fat are also high in calories, but it doesn’t mean that fat-free food is necessarily low in calories.

Taking in too many calories can happen in one of two ways: eating too much food or eating too many high-calorie foods. In the United States, oversized food portions are common in restaurants, fast food establishments, convenience stores, movie theaters, supermarkets, and even at home. The snacks and meals served in these places are often large enough to feed two or more people.

Another habit to be aware of is distracted eating. Eating and doing another activity at the same time increases the likelihood of eating more than your body needs. Attention and memory both play roles in how much a person eats during the day. Distracted eating means the brain isn’t processing how much or how often a person eats, which increases the likelihood that they’ll eat more at one time, and wait less time before they eat again.

Eating high-calorie foods can also be a problem, even if they’re eaten in small quantities. Some high-calorie foods come in smaller portions, like bite-size candy bars, potato chips, or other snacks. Because these foods contain more fat than healthy snacks, such as fruits and vegetables, they also contain more calories. Remember, every gram of fat contains more than twice the number of calories provided by a gram of carbohydrate. The small size of these snacks can make it feel like it’s okay to have several servings, but the calories add up quickly.