This article explores how the method of estimating the calories in food, developed in the late 19th century, may provide misleading information on the amount of energy people actually get from a food. The calorie counts are calculated by burning small samples of food, and science writer Bijal Trivedi observes, “Nutritionists are well aware that our bodies don’t incinerate food, they digest it. And digestion— from chewing food to moving it through the gut and chemically breaking it down along the way—takes a different amount of energy for different foods.”

Trivedi compares the nutrients in a health-food bar and a chocolate brownie and discusses research showing that more highly refined, cooked and softer ingredients tend to be absorbed more readily when eaten, thus contributing higher actual caloric intake than raw or chewy foods. Despite the acknowledged inaccuracies in calorie counts, most nutritionists have apparently decided that the measuring system should not be changed because “the problems and burdens ensuing from such a change would appear to outweigh by far the benefits.”

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For decades, manufacturers, distributors and retailers at every link in the food chain have come to Shook, Hardy & Bacon to partner with a legal team that understands the issues they face in today's evolving food production industry. Shook attorneys work with some of the world's largest food, beverage and agribusiness companies to establish preventative measures, conduct internal audits, develop public relations strategies, and advance tort reform initiatives.