“Empty Calories”

Appears in
On Food and Cooking

By Harold McGee

Published 2004

  • About

In one sense, sugars are highly nourishing. Pure sugars are pure energy. After fats and oils, they’re the most concentrated source of calories we have. The problem is that most people in the developed world consume more energy than they need to fuel their activity, and less than they need of hundreds of other nutrients and plant substances that contribute to long-term health. To the extent that sugar-rich foods displace more broadly nourishing foods from our diet, they are detrimental to human health, a source of calories “empty” of any other nutritional value, and a major contributor to the modern epidemic of obesity and associated health problems, including diabetes.