Dietary variety, energy regulation, and obesity

Psychol Bull. 2001 May;127(3):325-41. doi: 10.1037/0033-2909.127.3.325.


Increased variety in the food supply may contribute to the development and maintenance of obesity. Thirty-nine studies examining dietary variety, energy intake, and body composition are reviewed. Animal and human studies show that food consumption increases when there is more variety in a meal or diet and that greater dietary variety is associated with increased body weight and fat. A hypothesized mechanism for these findings is sensory-specific satiety, a phenomenon demonstrating greater reductions in hedonic ratings or intake of foods consumed compared with foods not consumed. Nineteen studies documenting change in preference, intake, and hedonic ratings of food after a food has been eaten to satiation in animals and humans are reviewed, and the theory of sensory-specific satiety is examined. The review concludes with the relevance of oral habituation theory as a unifying construct for the effects of variety and sensory-specific satiety, clinical implications of dietary variety and sensory-specific satiety on energy regulation, and suggestions for future research.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Body Composition
  • Energy Intake*
  • Energy Metabolism*
  • Food Preferences*
  • Humans
  • Obesity / psychology*
  • Satiety Response
  • Taste