Calorie counts on food labels should not be trusted. Why not?
1. In his New York Times Op-Doc, filmmaker Casey Neistat enlisted the services of a science lab equipped with a calorimeter and tested five random samples selected from among foods he might eat on any given day. Four of those five had more calories than their labels said they did. A pre-packaged spicy tofu sandwich had almost double the amount. Only one item came in under the stated calorie count.
2. Some scientists are questioning the system that is used for measuring calories in foods - the century-old Atwater system. This very system does not take into the account the fact that the degree to which our bodies metabolize foods varies with the type of food, the level of processing it has undergone and the “energy status” of the person eating it.
3. Food processing affects the number of calories we absorb from a food so something that is more highly processed is going to represent more calories than in a less processed form and possibly more calories than listed on the label
4. Not all aspects of digestion are represented in the Atwater factors normally used in the determination of metabolizable energy value so researchers who report Atwater-based energy values as well as consumers who utilize nutrition labels to manage their caloric intake will underestimate the energetic gains associated with a processed diet.
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