Brits should aim to reduce their calorie intake to 1,800 a day over their three main meals, according to new guidance from Public Health England (PHE).
Until now, official government recommendations have stated that women should consume 2,000 calories a day, whereas men should consume 2,500.
This still stands, however the new guidance is meant to be received as a “rule of thumb” for both men and women, because PHE says most people are consuming more calories than they should.
The idea is that by aiming for 1,800, you don’t have to count the calories in drinks such as colas and milky coffees over the course of the day.
As part of a campaign expected to launch in March 2018 called One You, PHE recommends Brits split their calories over the course of a day with 400 for breakfast, 600 each for lunch and dinner, and 200 for snacks.
The government claims that most Brits are eating 200-300 calories more than we should every day.
The new guidelines are substantially lower than what we have been used to – and they may not go down too well with the public especially around Christmas, when most people eat far more than usual – but PHE says they are only figures to aim for.
A PHE spokesperson has also explained that the guidelines have been deliberately set low because it expects people to underestimate their calorie intake and forget about the calories in drinks.
They said: “Calorie guidelines have not changed – it’s still 2,000 a day for women and 2,500 for men. Adults consume 200-300 too many calories a day, leading to weight gain and health issues.
“Our new OneYou campaign will give tips on managing calories for main meals so that by the end of the day, including snacks and drinks, total calories are closer to the guidelines.”
Nonetheless, many people have been shocked by the new guidelines, with fitness experts pointing out that people have differing basal metabolic rates and activity levels so a one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t really work.
However some officials hope the announcement will at least make people stop and think about how much they’re eating.
“This is a panic measure to get the public to understand they are eating too much,” Tam Fry, of the National Obesity Forum, told the Mail Online.
“Portion sizes are getting bigger and bigger and people are mindlessly eating them just because they are there. The idea is sound because we are eating too much, but my feeling is the thresholds are too low.”
And Christopher Snowdon, head of lifestyle economics at the Institute of Economic Affairs think tank, has also criticised the new initiative.
“Public Health England’s latest calorie guidelines are not based on evidence and are essentially a lie designed to manipulate people into eating less,” he said.
“This nanny-state agency makes it up as it goes along.”
With obesity rates at 27 per cent for both male and female adults in the UK, it is hard to deny that the country faces a crisis.
The UK is the most obese nation in Western Europe.
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