Liz's Blog for a Healthier, Happier Life

A Food-Based Scorecard for Preventing Weight Gain

The research is strong, consistent, and undeniable – it’s far easier to prevent weight gain, than to lose extra weight, once you’ve gained it.  It’s also why researchers developed the “Dietary Obesity-Prevention Score” – a scoring system, based on a significant body of evidence, that ranks different foods based on their ability to help you maintain a healthy body weight.  Foods linked to the prevention of long-term weight gain include fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, fish and seafood, yogurt and more plant-based protein sources.  Foods linked to long-term weight gain include red meat, processed meat, refined grains, animal fat, sugary drinks, ultra-processed foods, beer and spirits. 

To test the validity of the scoring system, researchers looked at the food intake of over 11,300 young adults (average age 35) who had been followed for a period of almost 10 years.  The results were impressive.  Those who had most closely adhered to the recommendations as outlined in the “Dietary Obesity-Prevention Score”, were also the least likely to gain weight.  A low intake of processed meats and sugary drinks was especially important for preventing weight gain.

Closing Thoughts:  The foods most strongly linked to the prevention of long-term weight gain are the same foods most strongly linked to a significantly lower risk of disease and a longer life.  Making them the foundation of your diet is wise for your waistline and your health.

P.S.  Although whole grains are also linked to a healthier body weight, researchers said they chose not to include them in their scoring system, because “not all whole grain foods are what they claim to be, as there is currently no standard for letting people know how much of a product comes from actual whole grains.”  I believe 100% whole grain products deserve a place in a healthy diet.  Less processed whole grain products are best.    


Gómez-Donoso, C., et al. “A food-based score and incidence of overweight/obesity: The Dietary Obesity-Prevention Score (DOS)”.  Clinical Nutrition 2019 Dec;38(6):2607-2615.



I’m a registered dietitian with a passion for peanut butter sandwiches and an undying love for chocolate. I’ve been researching, writing, and speaking about eating for optimal health for over 25 years. I have two wonderful daughters, love hiking year-round, and playing hockey in the winter. Perhaps, most importantly, I never let a good dance song go to waste!

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