Marion Nestle
Brian Wansink

Nutrition expert Marion Nestle talks about WHY CALORIES COUNT and WV re-airs our 2006 interview with food psychologist Brian Wansink about his book, MINDLESS EATING.

Marion Nestle
Are all calories equal? Nutrition expert Marion Nestle says if you’re worried about your weight, the answer is yes — all calories are the same. But if you’re worried about your health, you need to care about where your calories come from. That’s what she says in her book, WHY CALORIES COUNT: From Science To Politics (co-authored with Malden Nesheim.)

Diet plans are legion — low-fat, high-fat, low carbs, high carbs, even the Twinkies diet. But Americans are fatter than ever. In Why Calories Count, Nestle and Nesheim go back to basics: they say losing weight is all about taking in fewer calories than we expend. It’s that simple.

Or is it? We have a hard time understanding calories because they can’t be seen, smelled or tasted. We can gulp down as many as 900 calories in a mocha latte and not feel full at all. Nestle and Nesheim’s book helps the reader understand how calories work, as well as the social and political forces that are creating an “eat more” environment — at the same as billions suffer from food insecurity. They also show how Wall Street’s drive for ever more short-term profits plays a key role.

Brian Wansink

CORRECTION! In September 2018, Brian Wansink resigned from the Cornell Food Lab after accusations of falsified research came out. Among the papers that were found to be faulty (and were retracted by their publishers) were some featured on this interview.

Writers Voice aired this interview with Cornell food psychologist Brian Wansink in 2006 about his bestselling book, MINDLESS EATING: Why We Eat More Than We Think.

Wansink says this about “mindless eating”:

Most of us don’t overeat because we’re hungry. We overeat because of family and friends, packages and plates, names and numbers, labels and lights, colors and candles, shapes and smells, distractions and distances, cupboards and containers.

Our studies show that the average person makes around 250 decisions about food every day — breakfast or no breakfast? Pop-tart or bagel? Part of it or all of it? Kitchen or car? Yet out of these 200+ food decisions, most we cannot really explain. Mindless Eating shows what these decisions are and how to make them work for you rather than against you.

About Francesca Rheannon

Francesca Rheannon is an award-winning independent radio producer. In addition to hosting Writer's Voice, she's a freelance reporter for National Public Radio and its affiliates. Recipient of the prestigious Nancy Dickerson Whitehead Award for reporting on substance abuse issues for her news series, VOICES OF HIV, produced for 88.5 WFCR public radio in western Massachusetts. She is also finishing a book on Provence (PROVINCE OF THE HEART) and working on a memoir of her father, THE ARGONAUTS.