News | Published November 7, 2012

American Diabetes Month—A weight management strategy for diabetes prevention and management

Mount Nittany Health's outreach for American Diabetes Month features internationally known author Barbara J. Rolls, PhD, presenting a variety of programs for the community about her weight management program - Volumetrics.

Dr. Rolls, Penn State University professor of nutritional sciences, has literally written the book on Volumetrics along with over 250 scientific articles and six books total on the subject. Her work focuses on calorie density - the calories per bite or per any given portion of food. Her findings? If you lower the calorie density without changing the palatability of the recipes, people will "eat less" without really eating less.

In other words, people can eat the same amount of food, and feel full, by reducing their calorie intake by about 25 percent. The key? Changing the amount of water in foods, because water adds weight and volume but no calories. So, for example, you can increase the amount of water in a casserole by adding vegetables, which are mostly water - thereby lowering the calorie density.

In a study co-authored by Dr. Rolls, and published in a 2011 issue of the American Journal Of Clinical Nutrition, people who ate an entrée made up of 25 percent pureed vegetables, in this case, squash and cauliflower were blended into macaroni and cheese - consumed 360 fewer calories per day.

Roll's rules for putting science to work for you:

  • Add fruits and vegetables to everything.
  • Eat before you eat. Fill up on soup, or a salad, or an apple, before your main course, so that you eat less.
  • Satisfy your eyes first. The goal is a full plate. Think of the difference between raisons and grapes. You can easily fill up your plate with grapes, and actually eat fewer calories. Your brain will subconsciously realize that you will not leave the table hungry!
  • Don't forget protein. Opt for small portions of low-fat protein, like skim milk, beans, tofu and lean cuts of beef, chicken or fish.
  • Clean your plate! The idea is to feel full, and be full. Don't eat less; just eat less calorie dense foods.

Dr. Rolls appeared on Mount Nittany Health's Life & Health segment on WTAJ-TV Channel 10's Central PA LIVE, where she presented an in-depth explanation of Volumetrics. Download the video clip.

A message from Mount Nittany Health: You can prevent or delay the onset of type-2 diabetes through simple lifestyle changes. Change your diet, increase your level of physical activity, and maintain a healthy weight. Through these positive steps, you can live a healthier life that is diabetes free. For more information on diabetes prevention and how you can lower your risk of developing the disease, please visit