If Why Calories Count eventually draws conclusions and dietary recommendations that now seem obvious and redundant, Marion Nestle and Malden Nesheim nonetheless approach the importance of calories in a thorough, well-thought analysis of what can be scientifically proven and what is just supposition. The book addresses several facets of calories: how scientists measure their use, why everyone needs them, how the body gauges the amount it needs and the results of any discrepancies in this amount (due to an excess or lack of calories), and finally the politics of how we know (or more often, don’t know) the number of calories in the food we consume.

The book’s conclusions to monitor your weight, eat less and better, move more, and beware of marketing pitfalls, which today are well-known to anyone who makes the effort to listen, are on the...

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