Why Calories Count: From Science to Politics

Claims: This is not a diet book but instead an explanation of what calories are and how they work, both biologically and politically. The authors provide “an appreciation for what you are up against if you want to control your body weight in today’s ‘eat more’ environment,” and they conclude with some candid advice: Get organized. Eat less. Eat better. Move more. Get political.

Synopsis of the book: According to authors Nestle and Nesheim: “Food and calories are more than physiological; they also have social, political and economic dimensions … We hope that by understanding calories you will worry about them less, eat more healthfully without having to think about it and enjoy your food even more. We also hope to inspire you to appreciate the political dimensions of calories and to press for policies that will make it easier for you and everyone else to have enough to eat, to eat better and to be more active.”

Nutritional Pros and Cons: An engaging read with references cited throughout so you can “read them and form your own opinion.” For most dietitians, the book is part review, part confirmation and part enlightenment. For the public, it’s perhaps a bit heavy on the science, although certainly wellexplained and deserving of attention.

Bottom Line: Overall, the book delivers science and perspective, and is refreshingly less about finger-pointing and more about joining hands for a solution to America’s obesity problem. 

Melissa Joy Dobbins
Melissa Joy Dobbins, MS, RDN, CDE, is a nutrition expert, media resource, professional speaker and communications coach.