The Caloric Calculator

Online tool quantifies the effect of interventions and informs practice and policy.


The Issue:
Nearly 17 percent of U.S. children are obese. Small daily “energy gaps”—excess calories consumed over calories expended—account for weight gain over time. To reduce childhood obesity, the energy gap needs to be reduced. No common metric, however, exists to assess childhood interventions to accomplish this.

These investigators developed the Caloric Calculator, a web tool to estimate Average Caloric Impact (ACI) of physical activity and dietary interventions on target populations.

Using pull down menus, users choose gender, age group, and activity duration and customize their calculation requests to include:

Key Findings

  • Physical activities such as walking, jogging, physical education activity, and afterschool activities.

  • Food interventions such as reducing chip, soda, or cookie intake; replacing high calorie soda with water; switching from high-sugar cereals to healthy ones.

  • Other interventions such as reducing television watching or video game playing.

The ACI metric and Caloric Calculator offer analytic tools to inform evidence-based decisions about interventions to reduce childhood obesity.

About the Study:
Researchers reviewed the literature (1996–2012) and selected 15 interventions to include in their calculator that had an effect on youth diet, activity levels, and weight.