by Marion Nestle
Mar 21 2012

The New York Times on Why Calories Count

Jane Brody, Personal Health, March 20: Calories are everywhere yet hard to track

The human body has a very complex and redundant system to make sure the brain gets the sugar calories it needs to function, Dr. Nestle and Dr. Nesheim explain in their book. At least 100 different hormones, enzymes and other chemicals — with more likely to be discovered — act to regulate appetite and to assure that people eat enough to maintain brain function.

But it is these very systems that go into overdrive during starvation (translation: a reduced-calorie diet), making it so difficult for people to lose weight.

Mark Bittman, Opinionator, March 21: Is a calorie a calorie?

Ultimately, the calorie is political: marketing affects instinct, and Nestle and Nesheim really shine in their analysis in this realm. (Their slogan: “Get organized. Eat less. Eat better. Move more. Get political.”)

When I asked Nestle what she would do, given that people in the United States were obviously eating too many calories and that the resulting excess weight was costing all of us life years and money, she answered quickly: “We need a farm bill that’s designed from top to bottom to support healthier diets, one that supports growing fruits and vegetables and making them cheaper.

We need to fix school lunches so they’re based on fresh foods, and fix food assistance programs so people have greater access to healthier foods.”