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Definition:

A calorie is a unit of energy. In the context of food and nutrition, a calorie represents the amount of energy that is provided when a particular food item is consumed and metabolized by the body. The term is often used in two forms: the small calorie (cal), which is the amount of energy needed to raise the temperature of 1 gram of water by 1 degree Celsius, and the large Calorie (kcal or Cal), commonly used in food labeling, which is equivalent to 1,000 small calories.

Importance:

Understanding calorie content is crucial for various reasons:

  1. Energy Balance: Calories are the primary unit by which we measure the energy we consume through food and expend through physical activity. Maintaining a balanced caloric intake is essential for weight management.
  2. Nutritional Planning: Knowing the calorie content of foods helps individuals and healthcare professionals to plan diets and nutritional programs.
  3. Disease Management: Accurate caloric information can assist in managing various health conditions like diabetes, obesity, and cardiovascular diseases.
  4. Public Health: Calorie information on food packaging and menus can guide public health initiatives aimed at reducing obesity and improving overall health.

Labels:

Calorie content is typically displayed on:

  1. Packaged Foods: Almost all commercially packaged food items come with a nutrition facts label that includes calorie information.
  2. Restaurant Menus: In some jurisdictions, calorie counts are mandated to be displayed on restaurant menus and menu boards, particularly for chain restaurants.
  3. Vending Machines: Certain regulations require calorie information to be displayed on or near vending machines.
  4. Online Food Services: Some online food delivery platforms also display calorie information.

Laws by Country:

  1. United States: The FDA mandates that most packaged foods and beverages display a Nutrition Facts label that includes calorie content. The Affordable Care Act also requires certain chain restaurants and similar retail food establishments to list calorie information on menus and menu boards.
  2. European Union: The EU Food Information to Consumers Regulation requires nutrition information, including calories, to be displayed on pre-packaged foods.
  3. Canada: The Food and Drugs Act governs the display of nutritional information, including calorie content, on packaged foods. Some provinces also mandate calorie counts on menus in chain restaurants.
  4. Australia: The Food Standards Code requires calorie information on packaged foods, and some states require calorie labeling on menus in chain restaurants.
  5. India: The Food Safety and Standards (Packaging and Labeling) Regulations govern the display of caloric information on packaged foods.
  6. Other Countries: Various other countries have their own regulations, which generally require the display of calorie content on packaged foods, and in some cases, on restaurant menus.

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