Calories and their role in weight gain/loss
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Trends on nutritional changes occurring in this century in different countries around the world is consequence of a high-fat diet, rich sugar diet and refined foods, and low in complex carbohydrates and fiber, also known as the Western Diet. In association with this nutritional change studies show a progressive decline in physical activity of individuals. Together, the increased availability and consumption of highly palatable and energy diets and decreased energy expenditure could explain the growing incidence of obesity worldwide. Importantly, the increase in the number of obese people has been seen as a public health problem, since obesity is considered an important risk factor for the development of comorbidities such as type 2 diabetes mellitus, dyslipidemia, cardiovascular disease, among others, which are involved with the declining quality of life and increased human morbidity and mortality. For this reason, the development of effective strategies that work in prevention and treatment of excess body weight has been an important challenge facing humanity. Low-calorie diets play a central role in reducing body fat in obese subjects. However, the adaptation to a calorie-restricted diet is characterized by metabolic, endocrine, and immunologic changes. In humans, the weight loss induced by lower food intake was associated with lower risk factors for cardiovascular disease, decreased incidence of type 2 diabetes mellitus and increased life quality. In addition, calorie restriction may be considered a safe method of weight loss, as it reduces fat mass without altering muscle mass. This review aims to discuss the influence of calories on the weight gain / loss, as well as what is currently known about diets composition on body weight. © 2012 by Nova Science Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved.