Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Marion Nestle and Malden Newsheim: Why Calories Count

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I tried so hard to like this book, that I tried very hard to read this book. Disappointingly, I couldn't read it, I didn't like it, and I can't recommend it. In fact, I'm surprised that University of California Press, publishers of "Weighing In," which I loved, would also publish "Why Calories Count." As far as I can tell, the books, while not entirely contradictory, seem to take on the idea of food politics and come out with entirely different answers. Obesity, Guthman says, has to do with a whole bunch of systemic problems having to do with capitalism, racism, etc. Marion Nestle and Malden Nesheim take a scientific approach and then repeat the old standbys (well, I get this part from skimming, because I really *could not* read this whole book): portions are bigger, sugar is everywhere, etc.

"Why Calories Count" reads like an educated person's self-help book: here is how to understand calories, in exquisite detail, almost good enough to feel like you're a scientist. Here is some history of science. Here is the politics of it in just enough progressive voice to make you feel righteous indignation. And now, here's what you can do to keep your body healthy, but not in such a way that you feel like you're reading an airport-style-weight-loss-manual. It's really that bad. The authors use a lot of vernacular and "we" speech even when discussing physics that is so complicated I'm pretty sure they don't understand it. The writing is terrible. I made it to page 60 and stopped. Blugh.