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In a wide-ranging discussion of how food is digested in everything from humans to rats to pythons, the panel reviewed a new spate of studies showing that foods are processed differently as they move from our gullet to our guts and beyond. They agreed that net caloric counts for many foods are flawed because they don't take into account the energy used to digest food; the bite that oral and gut bacteria take out of various foods; or the properties of different foods themselves that speed up or slow down their journey through the intestines, such as whether they are cooked or resistant to digestion.
No-one should need to say such things. But at least people are.
I'm reminded of a dialogue I was having with someone on the Odds and Ends board, where the whole question of quantitative measures came up. That's a large and interesting area. Our increasing interest in quantitative measures is characteristic of the modern age and has helped to propel scientific and technological advance -- for good or evil. Here's another aspect of that: we get fixated on numbers. Just because there is a parameter that we can measure, doesn't mean there's any sense in doing so.