People Often Underestimate Calorie Intake

Peter Russell

March 02, 2018

Brits are underestimating how many calories we are eating each day, figures reveal.

Experts say it could be hampering efforts to cut rising obesity levels.

Health officials are planning a campaign next month to persuade us to cut down on our calorie intake.

Underestimating Our Calorie Intake

A survey of 4,452 adults asked men and women to log their calorie consumption.

On average, men said they consumed 2,065 calories but were actually taking on board 3,119 calories.

Women estimated their calorie consumption at a modest 1,570 when the actual figure was 2,393.

Recommendations say that a typical man need around 2,500 calories a day to maintain his weight. For a woman, that figure is around 2,000 calories.

'We Don't Want to Say We Are Fat Slobs'

A Public Health England spokesman tells us that they want to make people more "calorie aware about their main meals" in a March health campaign

Tam Fry, from the National Obesity Forum, says under-reporting of calorie intake has always been a problem. "We've all got fatter in the course of time," he tells us. "People now say they eat far less than they actually do, and that's understandable because nobody wants to say 'I have an unhealthy diet and I am a fat slob' because I eat the wrong things.

"They put down what they think the researchers would want to hear."

'Concentrate on Nutrition Rather Than Calories'

Linia Patel, a registered dietitian and spokesperson for the British Dietetic Association (BDA), says it's no wonder we struggle to accurately recall how many calories we are consuming. "You'll cook and you'll have a bite to eat, nibbling away on cheese or a cracker and you'll almost not even think of that as food because you almost only count as food that which you actually sit down to eat.

"So, I think there's a lot of mindless eating."

Linia Patel's advice is not to become obsessed with calories but to concentrate on the nutritional value of what we eat instead.


Evaluating calorie intake, Bailey R, Data Science Campus

Tam Fry, National Obesity Forum

Lina Patel, British Dietetic Association

Public Health England