All about food: Understanding calories, toxic sugar, food trends

Magnolia cupcake
A cupcake on display at the Magnolia Bakery February 19, 2010 at Rockefeller Center in New York.

This hour is all about food. We'll talk about calories, toxic sugar and why Americans love food trends.


To understand food, you have to understand calories. But calories can't be seen, smelled or tasted and are often misunderstood by consumers. In her new book "Why Calories Count," Marion Nestle explains calories and why they matter. Nestle joins The Daily Circuit Thursday.

"If you want to understand calories, you need to know the difference between calories measured and estimated," Nestle said. "Most studies of diet, health, and calorie balance depend on self-reports of dietary intake and physical activity or educated guesses about the number of calories involved. What people say they eat and do, and what they actually eat and do are quite different. This makes diet studies difficult to interpret (to say the least)."

Understanding calories is essential to creating a healthy diet, but there are a lot of elements that complicate the picture, she said.

"As with everything else having to do with food and nutrition, many groups have a stake in how calories are marketed, perceived, labeled, and promoted," Nestle said. " As we've already said, eating fewer calories is bad for business. Efforts to do something about obesity in adults and children focus on eating less or on eating better, meaning eating more fruits, vegetables, and grains but consuming less of sodas, fast food, snacks, and other highly profitable items."


It's known that a diet high in sugar and high fructose corn syrup can cause weight gain, but new research out of the University of California-Davis links high fructose corn syrup to an immediate increase in risks for heart disease and diabetes.

Kimber Stanhope, associate project scientist at the University of California-Davis, will join The Daily Circuit Thursday to discuss the new research.

"We've now shown that the fructose and high fructose consumption within two weeks increases fat lipids," Stanhope said.


Americans love to get on board with the latest trends in food. In the last years we've seen all sorts of desserts and dishes get trendy overnight, but what makes a food "cool" and why do Americans love food fads?

Writer and registered dietitian Janet Helm will join The Daily Circuit Thursday to talk about the latest food trends.