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Studies are underway to test the effectiveness of types of calorie labeling on foods. Will knowing both the number of calories and the amount of exercise it will take to burn off those calories be more effective in consumers making healthier food choices?
Catherine Jones and Elaine Trujillo, MS RDN, authors of The Calories In Calories Out Cookbook (The Experiment, 2014), espouse the idea that effective weight loss and maintenance come from knowing both sides of this equation. Their critically-acclaimed new book, showcasing 200 delicious low-calorie recipes, gives readers both the calories in and calories out values. It’s the only cookbook that has taken this bold and novel approach and applied it to home cooking. The mission of the 400-page tome is to promote a healthy lifestyle through cooking at home, using whole versus processed foods, and stepping up exercise to achieve energy balance.
Before the research results of the ongoing studies are validated, Jones and Trujillo have jumped the gun by giving readers all the information they need in their book. As Jones says, “Knowing both the calories in and calories out values make eating and drinking a much more conscious process. You’ve got facts the to help you make the healthiest choices possible. When you’re lured by the sweet scent of a large gooey Cinnabon, and we all have our weak hungry moments, knowing that it contains 880 calories that will take about 200 minutes to burn off, might empower you to walk by and feel good.”
The trend towards calorie awareness is catching. Major food companies are beginning to shift their focus to lower-calorie, reduced-fat, healthier foods. In a five-year study by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, results showed that Americans have cut back an average of 78 calories from their daily diets, reducing 6.4 trillion calories in sales of food and beverages. The excellent news is that this reduction is driven by consumer demand. Processed food sales have been stagnant, and a marketing campaign against sugary sodas has been highly effective. Companies have changed to smaller package sizes, they are adding less oils, sugar and salt, and many are actively inventing healthier products.
Yet the fact remains that over one-third of adults in the United States are obese, and obesity is a culprit of many of the serious health problems from diabetes to heart disease. More needs to be done to prevent a looming national health crisis and economic disaster with rising healthcare costs.
Would listing calories out values on foods help reverse the rates of weight gain and obesity? Jones says, “It’s certainly worth sharing that knowledge with consumers. It can only empower them and it will teach the younger generations to think twice before they eat. They are the ones that will ultimately reverse this rising weight trend, or not.”
With Halloween around the corner, trillions of calories are about to be poured into the streets. Kids and adults will spike their sugar levels to the moon. Have you ever thought to consider the total number of calories that can be held by a smiling jack-o-lantern-shaped loot bag? According to a study by Loyola University Medical School, the average trick-or-treater collects 4,800 calories and over three cups of sugar. For some, who make collecting candy their primary goal, the calorie count can be much higher, even into the tens of thousands. The Calories In and Calories Out Blog has practical advice on what to do with all that loot. So, before you get your costumes on, find your running shoes to burn off the booty.
CATHERINE JONES is the award-winning author or coauthor of numerous cookbooks including Eating for Pregnancy: An Essential Nutrition Guide and Cookbook for Today’s Mothers-to-Be, and, with Elaine Trujillo, The Calories In, Calories Out Cookbook and Eating for Lower Cholesterol. She is a nonprofit founder, app developer, frequent blogger, and freelance journalist. ELAINE TRUJILLO, MS, RDN, is a nutritionist who has years of experience promoting nutrition and health and has written numerous scientific journal articles, chapters and textbooks.