If the first thing you do when grocery shopping is check the label for calorie content, then we have some welcome news. Scientists estimate that calorie counts on food labels may be off by as much as 25%.
For example, independent nutritionists found that a small pepperoni pizza had only 386 calories compared to the 422 stated on the label.
Calorie calculation was created 120 years ago. Using a device called a bomb calorimeter, American agricultural chemist Wilbur Olin Atwater burned food samples and measured the amount of energy released from the heat this produced. He then estimated the amount of this energy the body used up, by calculating the energy of undigested food in feces and other waste products. Atwater concluded that every gram of carbohydrates produced four calories, every gram of fat, nine calories and every gram of protein, four calories.
Ever since, these figures have been set in stone.
However new research by independent nutritionist Dr. Geoffrey Livesey, and others, has shown that the amount of calories we digest in certain foods varies. Livesey therefore suggests that the calorie content of food should be re-calculated according to its Net Metabolizable Energy otherwise known as the amount of calories left for your body to use after the calories used in digesting it have been subtracted. ‘We need to take into account all the considerable knowledge we have learnt since 1889 and start applying it,” said Dr. Livesey.
His findings were reviewed by the World Health Organization in 2007, which concluded his research was sound.
Your Word on Health bloggers will be celebrating the demise of calories this lunchtime with pepperoni pizza! What else?!?