The Influence on Population Weight Gain and Obesity of the Macronutrient Composition and Energy Density of the Food Supply

Curr Obes Rep. 2015 Mar;4(1):1-10. doi: 10.1007/s13679-014-0134-7.


Rates of overweight and obesity have increased dramatically in all regions of the world over the last few decades. Almost all of the world's population now has ubiquitous access to low-cost, but highly-processed, energy-dense, nutrient-poor food products. These changes in the food supply, rather than decreases in physical activity, are most likely the primary driver of population weight gain and obesity. To-date, the majority of prevention efforts focus on personalised approaches targeting individuals. Population-wide food supply interventions addressing sodium and trans fat reduction have proven highly effective and comparable efforts are now required to target obesity. The evidence suggests that strategies focusing upon reducing the energy density and portion size of foods will be more effective than those targeting specific macronutrients. Government leadership, clearly specified targets, accountability and transparency will be the key to achieving the food supply changes required to address the global obesity epidemic.

Keywords: Energy density; Food supply; Macronutrient composition; Nutrition transition; Obesity; Ultra-processed food products.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Diet
  • Energy Intake*
  • Feeding Behavior*
  • Food Supply*
  • Humans
  • Obesity / etiology*
  • Obesity / prevention & control
  • Portion Size
  • Weight Gain*