A lot of people went into 2023 hoping to lose some weight. It's no surprise. Putting it on is easy and rich countries make delicious food at affordable prices while our culture has not yet overcome our biological mandate to eat because animals are programmed to be unsure when the next meal will be.

If you went into 2023 trying some miracle diet - keto, gluten-free, Mediterranean, et al. - you have probably already failed. Yet each of those diets has proponents because it worked for them individually. With enough individual anecdotes epidemiologists will find correlation using food frequency questionnaires and claim it's data.

Calories are all that matter, anyone claiming otherwise is selling you something, but an analysis of commonalities in successful weight loss efforts across multiple fad diets found what they had in common.

The most striking was a lack of hyper-palatable foods. That is another way to say delicious and a lot less annoying than scientifically meaningless gibberish like refined, processed or, even weirder, ultra-processed. In order to sell delicious foods as broadly as possible companies will create a hyper-palatable food - Combos were certainly never found in nature - that will appeal to as many people as possible.

Just because it is fruit does not mean it is healthier. Since agriculture began, farmers optimized produce to have more calories and be more delicious.

Anyone who claims rutabaga is a snack is just virtue-signaling how much healthier they want you to think they are, they don't mean it. No one wants to brag about their bag of Doritos, even though they are better.

Results from 2,733 meals in low-carb, low-fat, so-called "unprocessed", and "ultra-processed" diets found that hyper-palatable foods were the common factor in eating too many calories. The reward is obvious while the calories are subtle. Sometimes it is just great marketing that hyper-palatable foods are perceived as healthy. If you throw a vitamin C supplement into a Coca-Cola it's as healthy as orange juice while Granola is high-calorie yet people think it must be healthy because of imagery.

If you want to lose weight, fewer "energy dense" foods are a good way to go, be they meat or cheese or carbohydrates or bread. You need to give up calories. And that is hard. Looking at the calories, even if they seem to be "health" food is an easy way to go.

Citation: Fazzino, T.L., Courville, A.B., Guo, J. et al. Ad libitum meal energy intake is positively influenced by energy density, eating rate and hyper-palatable food across four dietary patterns. Nat Food (2023). https://doi.org/10.1038/s43016-022-00688-4