Calorie Detective


By: Nikki Nies

Food establishments that have 20+ locations are required to post food calorie amounts of food offered with the new Obamacare regulations. The idea is that when you know how much you’re eating, you’ll tend to eat less. Yet, Casey Neistat finds the calories provided can be inaccurate.

Original Image by Brett Jordan via Flickr
Original Image by Brett Jordan via Flickr

While the NYC Health Code states that the Health Dept. will cite violations if calories aren’t posted. However, accuracy isn’t required.

With the resources of the Obesity Research lab at St. Luke’s Hospital, a calorimeter was used to test 5 items in 10 hours. Check out the following calorie discrepancies found:

  1. At Grandma’s, the  Original Banana Nut Muffin, it was reported it had 640 calories. However, with Neistat’s fine tooth comb and calorimeter, it was found the banana nut muffin actually had 734.7 calories!
  2. With the Starbucks Grande Coffee Frappuccino with whipped cream, it’s reported it’s a mere 370 calories. However, it’s 392.9 calories. Not too bad off.
  3. In a custom made Chipotle Barbacoa burrito, Chipotle’s online burrito stated it would come out to me 1175 calories. The calorimeter found the burrito to be 10% more calories, at 1295 calories.
  4. One of Neiget’s favorite “Healthy” spicy tofu sandwiches, which was listed to be 228 calories, but was actually 548.4 calories, nearly double the listed calorie amount!
  5. At Subway, the 6″ turkey sandwich rang in accurately! The sandwich is listed as 360 calories and the calorimeter found it be 350.8 calories, 97.4% of the 360 calories listed!

Multiple samples were not tested for validity or reliability, but with Neistat’s experiment, it confirms that we can not believe every nutrition or health claim provided.  If Neiget had gone by the calories listed on the packaged food, he would have consumed an EXTRA 548.5c alories he was unaware of. What does this mean? Can we forgive a 10% margin? Are we being too hard on the restaurant and food industry? This is up for debate. Discuss!

Sources: http://www.nytimes.com/video/opinion/100000002061153/calorie-detective.html

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