chain reactions but also by societal norms and values around portion size and other eating behaviors.
Behavioral scientists have made significant progress over the last 10–20 years toward building an evidence base for understanding what drives energy imbalance in overweight and obese individuals. Meanwhile, food scientists have been tapping into this growing evidence base to improve existing technologies and create new technologies that can be applied to alter the food supply in ways that reduce the obesity burden on the American population. As just one example, chemists at the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) developed a novel, low-oil-uptake rice batter that absorbs 50 percent less oil than regular wheat batter and can be used for coating chicken, fish, vegetables, and other foods. Food scientists have developed a range of other fat-reducing technologies as well, including new processing technologies for multiple grain doughs, new baking technologies, and technologies that incorporate fiber as a fat replacement. Reducing fat content might seem like the most obvious way to reduce the energy density of a food, given the high caloric value of fat,4 but there are other ways. For example, food scientists in the beverage industry have developed reduced-calorie sweetened beverages by replacing sucrose using various zero- and low-calorie sweetener technologies.
Reducing the energy density of foods is by no means the only or best way to leverage food technologies in the effort to reduce and prevent obesity. Other technologies being leveraged for obesity prevention and reduction efforts include ready-to-eat portion-controlled frozen meals, which have been shown to be associated with reduced energy intake and increased short-term weight loss; a variety of fruit- and vegetable-based technologies, based on the association between fruit and vegetable intake and maintenance of a healthy weight (when substituted for more energy dense foods) and reduced risk of many chronic diseases; and technologies that enhance micronutrient density, developed on evidence suggesting that micronutrient deficiencies may contribute to overeating.
On November 2 and 3, 2010, the Institute of Medicine’s (IOM’s) Food Forum convened a public workshop in Washington, DC, to examine the complexity of human eating behavior and explore ways in which the food industry can continue to leverage modern food processing technologies to influence energy intake as one population-based change of the many
4 Fat contains 9 cal/g, compared to alcohol (7 cal/g), protein and most carbohydrates (4 cal/g), fiber (1.5–2.5 cal/g), and water (0 cal/g).