Which variable is dependent and which is independent in this example? And why?

In a situation like this, you could easily use either as the independent variable. But the answer they are probably looking for is that miles is independent and calories is dependent.
Caloric content of food would be the independent variable in that case, but not in the case you posted
If you’re trying to decide on an answer to some HW problem, or something of the like, go with what’s more likely. If that is the case, is what you posted the *exact* wording of the question? If not, I recommend you provide the exact question, as it’d help greatly in deciding on an answer.

Simply from a human perspective, and based on questions I’ve encountered over the years, it’s much more likely that **c** is the dependent variable. But again, I’d need to see the exact wording to provide an exact answer.

Lastly, you mentioned a “packing food” scenario where yes, it does seem more intuitive for **c** to be independent rather than dependent.

So in short, what are you precisely asking? It can go either way depending on the *specific wording* of the question. If you want an answer, provide the exact wording of the question you want answered, because otherwise there are multiple answers.
C is DV
You can't just sit still and command your body to burn more calories. The act of running triggers burning more calories. Cause=independent variable. Effect=dependent variable
The independent variable is the one under your control. You cannot control the number of calories burned.

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