by Marion Nestle

Currently browsing posts about: Calories

Feb 13 2019

Another casualty of trade disputes: Cheese

The Wall Street Journal reports this mind-boggling statistic:  Cheese producers have put 1.4 billion pounds in cold storage in the hope that the market will improve and prices will rise.

Compared to other countries, Americans do not eat much cheese—35 pounds or so per capita per year.

That may be a lot less that the amount consumed in Denmark and other cheese-loving countries, but watch out for the calories: pound of cheese is 1100-1800 calories or more, depending on type.

Jan 17 2019

Annals of food marketing: Gold-leafed potato chips!

When Torsten Veblen wrote The Theory of the Leisure Class in 1899, he could not possibly have imagined this product when he invented the term “conspicuous consumption.”

Koikeya-3

I am indebted to BakeryAndSnacks.com for its noting the new “bling in snacks:”

Japanese snack maker Koikeya…collaborated with gold-leaf maker Hakuichi…to create the Koikeya Pride Potato Kanazawa Gold Leaf Salt chips. The chips are crafted with particular care to the ingredients and frying process, using gold leaf pieces in two different sizes to ensure the chips are thoroughly coated.

The Koikeya Pride Potato Kanazawa Gold Leaf Salt chips are priced at 300 yen for a 68g bag, available at convenience stores across Japan.

The snack maker is also offering an exclusive set that comes with three packages of extra gold leaf that consumers can sprinkle onto the chips.The set, priced at 2,000 yen ($18), includes three 68g (2.4oz) bags of the chips and three 0.12g (0.004oz) packets of extra gold leaf.

Gold-plated junk food?

Fortunately, gold has no calories.

Dec 31 2018

Happy new year and food predictions for 2019!

It’s prediction season and NBC MACH asked for mine in science and tech.  Here it is, along with those of 18 others (I’m in impressive company).

My crystal ball shows a fairy godmother waving her magic wand, giving us adequate levels of food assistance for the poor, delicious and healthy school food for kids, honest food labels that everyone can understand, food so safe that nobody has to worry about it, wages for farm and restaurant workers that they can actually live on, and farmers growing food for people (not so much for animals or cars) in ways that protect and replenish soil and water, reduce greenhouse gases and provide them a decent living. Hey — a girl can dream. And do we ever need dreams — visions for a healthier and more sustainable food system — if we are to continue to thrive as a nation. I cannot get my head around the idea that anyone would object to ensuring that all children get fed the best possible food in schools, that animals should be raised humanely or that crops should be grown sustainably with the least possible harm to the environment. Our food system should protect and promote public health as its first priority. We can hope that 2019 will bring us some steps in thatdirection, but here’s my prediction: not this year. But let’s hold onto those hopes for when times get better.

Outside also asked for predictions.  Here’s what I said:

“Eat Less, Move More” Will Make a Comeback

I’m guessing that calories will be back as explanations for weight gain and dieting.  The arguments about “low-carb” versus “low-fat” go on and on and on, but get nowhere. Attempts to prove one or the other better for weight loss or maintenance remain unconvincing. Advice to eat less and move more still makes good sense. The trick is finding a way to do either—and preferably both—that is so easy to adhere to that it becomes second nature. Individuals have to figure that out on their own, and understanding calorie balance is not a bad way to begin.

If you like this sort of thing, here are some others:

Have a happy and delicious new year!

Sep 26 2018

Calorie labeling works. A little.

A study from The National Bureau of Economic Research finds that calorie labeling on restaurant menus reduced calorie consumption by about 3%, mainly from appetizers and main dishes, but not from drinks or desserts (oh dear).

The Cornell investigators’ description of the study is worth a look.  Here’s what got my attention:

In one restaurant, the number of calories in the appetizers ranged from 200 to 910. The entrees ranged from 580 to 1,840 calories, and the desserts from 420 to 1,150 calories.

Gulp.  No wonder people have trouble maintaining reasonable weight.  Most people require between 2000 (small, inactive) and 3000 (big, very active) calories a day.  One meal in that unnamed place takes care of that and then some, and a 3% reduction won’t make a dent.

Thanks to the Hagstrom Report for finding these studies.

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Aug 15 2018

Eating 14.5 pints of ice cream in 6 minutes is not enough to win an eating contest

It’s summer, it’s hot, and I enjoy ice cream, so I was riveted to learn the sad fate of Joey Chestnut who lost the Indiana State Fair’s World Ice Cream Eating Championship because he only consumed 14.5 pints (!) in six minutes (the winner consumed 15.5 pints in that time).

Chestnut, who took second place Sunday, is an 11-time Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest champion. He became well-known locally after dominating the 2014 St. Elmo Shrimps Eating Competition, downing 10.42 pounds of shrimp in eight minutes to set a then-world record. He won it again in 2016 by wolfing down 15 pounds of shrimp. And again in 2017, eating 10 pounds and 6 ounces.

The story in the Indy Star only describes the ice cream as vanilla and gives no information about what kind, so it’s difficult to estimate its calories.  A pint could run from about 400 to 1,000 calories, depending on the fat content, so we are talking here about 6,000 to 15,000 calories—in six minutes.

Meet Major League Eating, an organization that sponsors—and gives schedules for—national eating contests.

Somehow, I missed the ones in Wisconsin and the Nathan’s Hot Dog Contest in Coney Island last Sunday.   Big mistake.   That same Joey Chestnut was the winner, beating his previous records with 74 hot dogs and buns in 10 minutes.

The mind boggles.

Thanks!

May 7 2018

Today: Menu labeling goes national

Remember menu labeling?  In 2010, Congress said fast food places should reveal calories on their menus (New York City required this in 2008).

Food companies fought the measure and got delays, but the eight-year delay is up.  Menu labeling goes national today.

In a blog post, FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb explained FDA thinking about such matters: the agency is pro-consumer and pro-market.

Information about how healthy our food is gives us the chance to make better choices about our diets. This same information also inspires competition among producers to formulate food in ways that make it more healthful…. food producers should be able to compete on the ability to develop foods that are healthier, and make reliable, science-based claims about these attributes to consumers.  So at FDA, we’re reforming our policies to make it more efficient to develop these claims. This clarity may encourage more manufacturers to invest in making foods healthier.

Uh oh.  More health claims (these, I insist, are about marketing, not health).  So that’s the trade-off; we get menu labeling at the price of more and inevitably misleading health claims.

Gottlieb defended the measure on Fox News.

If you have information on menu labels, the average consumer will reduce their caloric intake to 30-50 calories a day,” Gottlieb said during the interview. “That turns out to be about 3 to 5 pounds per year that you can lose just by having better information.

This is correct in theory, if you assume that one pound of fat contains about 3500 calories (this estimate comes from multiplying 454 grams per pound by 9 calories per gram for fat and rounding off).  Then it will take 3500 divided by 50 = 70 days to lose one pound.

In practice, such small calorie deficits are hardly measurable.  Most estimates suggest that losing weight requires a deficit of 300 to 500 calories a day (My co-author and I discuss all this in our book, Why Calories Count: From Science to Politics).

For an quick summary of the studies of menu labeling, JAMA has a useful review.

It’s great that Commissioner Gottlieb defended menu labeling on Fox News.  Looking at the calories on menu items is fun!

And it most definitely works for me.  If I see a muffin labeling at 700 calories, I share it with friends.

Dec 12 2017

Oops. Fat replacing sugar in US diets.

In the late 1980s, nutrition scientists identified fat and saturated fat as key nutrients that needed to be reduced in US diets.

One result was the Snackwell’s phenomenon in the early 1990s—“no-fat” cookies with just as many calories as the ones with fat.  They flew off the shelves.

Image result for snackwell's no fat cookies

Now the push is to get rid of carbs, especially sugars.  The result?  Fat is back, along with its calories (fat has more than twice the calories per gram as carbohydrates, 9 as opposed to 4).

A tweet from Kevin Bass tells the story:

The USDA tells the same story, but with respect to specific products:

These products may be more satiating, but watch the calories!

Also watch out for the saturated fat:

 

Aug 3 2017

Is this for real?

Sent to me from a Cracker Barrel in Florida.

Yum.

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