Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Confusion About Calories Is Nothing New, Professor Finds

Date:
November 20, 2006
Source:
University of Georgia
Summary:
James L. Hargrove, associate professor of foods and nutrition in the University of Georgia, said many nutritionists aren't even sure of the true origin of the Calorie -- or why it's supposed to be capitalized. His findings are detailed in a study to be published in the December issue of the Journal of Nutrition.

While enjoying a Thanksgiving dinner with friends and family, most try to avoid thinking about the seemingly unending number of Calories they’re consuming.

Related Articles


It probably never crosses their minds, however, to think about why food is measured in Calories.

James L. Hargrove, associate professor of foods and nutrition in the University of Georgia’s College of Family and Consumer Sciences, said many nutritionists aren’t even sure of the true origin of the Calorie (or why it’s supposed to be capitalized).

“We all teach this unit, and nobody knows where it came from, not even the historians of nutrition,” he said.

After this realization, Hargrove began studying the origins of the Calorie. He details his findings in a study to be published in the December issue of the Journal of Nutrition.

Formally, a Calorie is a measure of the amount of energy required to heat one kilogram of water one degree Celsius. It was first used in engineering and physics, but eventually found its niche in nutrition, where it is used to measure the amount of energy food contains.

Hargrove found that there’s some controversy about who “invented” the Calorie. Some references show that two Frenchmen, P.A. Favre and J.T. Silbermann, invented the Calorie in 1852. Other texts state that a German physician, Julius Mayer, effectively invented the Calorie in a study he published in 1848.

Hargrove credits the French chemist Nicholas Clement with the invention, however, citing lecture notes from Clement that define the term as early as 1819.

He credits Mayer with beginning a dialogue about food as an energy source. Before Mayer’s time, people thought that energy was God-given; they made no concrete connections between food they ate and the energy on which their bodies ran.

Despite the confusion over who invented the unit, Hargrove notes that the Calorie as a nutritional unit came to the U.S. by way of a man named Wilbur Atwater in 1887. Shortly afterward, the science of nutrition began to take hold in the U.S.

A popular early nutrition text published in 1918 by Lulu Hunt Peters outlined the first methods of counting Calories. In her bestseller, Diet and Health, with the Key to the Calories, Peters outlined 100-Calorie portions of many foodstuffs and preached counting Calories as a way to regulate weight.

Hargrove notes that one common misunderstanding about the Calorie is why it is spelled with an uppercase “C” rather than a lowercase “c.” Owing to the obscure origins of the measure, there was confusion about whether or not a calorie was defined as the amount of heat required to raise one kilogram of water one degree Celsius or one gram of water one degree Celsius. As the Calorie became popular in nutrition, it became more practical to measure the amount of kilograms. To denote this, a capital “C” refers to a kilogram calorie, while a lowercase “c” refers to a gram calorie.

"In food and daily energy, we use so much energy that if you measure in gram calories, you're talking about two million calories a day," he said. "And who wants to think about that?"


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Georgia. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Georgia. "Confusion About Calories Is Nothing New, Professor Finds." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 20 November 2006. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/11/061120060301.htm>.
University of Georgia. (2006, November 20). Confusion About Calories Is Nothing New, Professor Finds. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 24, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/11/061120060301.htm
University of Georgia. "Confusion About Calories Is Nothing New, Professor Finds." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/11/061120060301.htm (accessed October 24, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Friday, October 24, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

IKEA Desk Converts From Standing to Sitting With One Button

IKEA Desk Converts From Standing to Sitting With One Button

Buzz60 (Oct. 24, 2014) IKEA is out with a new convertible desk that can convert from a sitting desk to a standing one with just the push of a button. Jen Markham explains. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ebola Protective Suits Being Made in China

Ebola Protective Suits Being Made in China

AFP (Oct. 24, 2014) A factory in China is busy making Ebola protective suits for healthcare workers and others fighting the spread of the virus. Duration: 00:38 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
WHO: Millions of Ebola Vaccine Doses by 2015

WHO: Millions of Ebola Vaccine Doses by 2015

AP (Oct. 24, 2014) The World Health Organization said on Friday that millions of doses of two experimental Ebola vaccines could be ready for use in 2015 and five more experimental vaccines would start being tested in March. (Oct. 24) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Doctor in NYC Quarantined With Ebola

Doctor in NYC Quarantined With Ebola

AP (Oct. 24, 2014) An emergency room doctor who recently returned to the city after treating Ebola patients in West Africa has tested positive for the virus. He's quarantined in a hospital. (Oct. 24) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins