Document Type


Date of Original Version



Purpose of Review:

In accordance with US dietary guidance, incorporating variety into the diet can align with energy balance, though greater food variety in some categories may make energy balance more challenging. Thus, experimental and epidemiologic evidence is summarized on the relationship between food variety, food and energy intake, and energy balance.

Recent Findings:

Lab-based, experimental research consistently demonstrates that greater variety within foods or sensory characteristics of food increases food and energy intake within an eating occasion. Epidemiologic evidence is less consistent, potentially driven by differing methodologies, particularly in defining and measuring food variety. Moreover, the effect of variety on energy balance appears to be moderated by food energy density.


Integrating insights from experimental and epidemiologic research are essential for strengthening food variety guidance including developing evidence-based definitions of food variety, understanding moderators of the relationship, and developing practical guidance interpretable to consumers.