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Why Calories Count

Why Calories Count

From Science to Politics

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Why Calories Count: From Science to Politics takes a deeper look at the calorie and how consuming too many or too few can cause drastic health problems. Authors Marion Nestle and Malden Nesheim explain what calories are and how they work, both biologically and politically. They guide readers through the fundamentals of diet and food, weight gain, weight loss, and obesity, and sort through misinformation put forth by food manufacturers and diet programs.They also speak to the politics of the calorie, namely how federal and corporate policies have come together to create an "eat more" environment in our culture.

Nestle and Nesheim also delve into topic of growing obesity trends, especially in America, and namely blame it on increased calorie intake and not decreased activity levels as some have speculated. The reasoning behind this theory? That it's the kinds of food we're eating, not necessarily the amount, that's making both kids and adults fatter. One piece of data in the book showed that the leading sources of calories in American diets between 2005 and 2006 were desserts, sodas, pizza, chips and burgers. And Nestle and Nesheim say one of the main reasons behind this is that it's what's cheap, available, and highly marketed in our society.

In short, the book's message is this: Get Organized. Eat Less. Eat Better. Move more. Get Political.

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  • Both authors are accredited: Nestle a professor in the department of nutrition, food studies, and public health at New York University; and Nesheim a professor emeritus of nutritional sciences at Cornell University
  • Book is accessible and easy to understand
  • Very thorough and well written
  • Answers basic questions about weight gain and weight loss
  • Doesn't sell a diet, but rather a conscious approach to health
  • None to speak of, besides the fact that it doesn't provide readers with any specific diet or exercise guidelines.

Why Calories Count doesn't try to sell you on a specific diet plan, but rather offers practical advice on how to approach your nutrition responsibly. On diet, the authors write, "When everything is working the way it should, you don't need to give calorie requirements a thought. You eat when you are hungry, you stop when you are full, your weight does not change, and somehow it all works out."

Regarding how many calories we need, Nestle and Neishem believe they must balance the number we expend, and include a graph in the book that estimates healthy calorie amounts for both males and females at every age.

There are also individual chapters on starvation (13) and obesity (16), and how calories come into play there. As well as if some diets work better than others (20).


While there aren't any specific fitness guidelines in the book, the authors do touch on the importance of exercise, and how increased activity leves require us to consume more calories.


Why Calories Count: From Science to Politics is a well-written book from two very credible authors. It's a perfect read for anyone looking to further their knowledge of the calorie, clear up misconceptions about calories presented by the food and diet industries, and how to be more aware of the "eat more" culture we live in today.

Instead of discussing which diets can help us gain and lose weight, the authors talk about how different diets affect our bodies, and why some are more well designed than others - of course, all with the primary focus remaining on the calorie.

In summary, this book seems worth the read, and there wasn't anything concerning about the content. Of course, readers should keep in mind that these are the opinions and observations of two people, and should compare their research and advice with other qualified sources before shaping their entire ideology on food, diet and calories around the book.

Common Misspellings

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