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Two-thirds unaware of calories needed to maintain a healthy weight

By Editor
7th January 2015
Charity, Food Latest news

Almost two-thirds of people do not know how many calories the average person needs to maintain a healthy weight, according to new research commissioned by Diabetes UK, The British Heart Foundation and Tesco.

The YouGov survey of 2,025 people, commissioned to mark the launch of a new partnership between the three, found only 35 per cent of respondents knew the average man needs to consume 2,500 calories a day to maintain a healthy weight. Only slightly more, 37 per cent, could pinpoint 2,000 calories as the equivalent for women.

Awareness is even lower among older people, with just a quarter of those aged 55 and over knowing this. (26 per cent knowing it for women, and 23 per cent for men).

Energy balance – the balance between the number of calories you consume and use – is the cornerstone of weight management. One in three people questioned underestimated the calories in half a pint of semi skimmed milk (136 Kcals) and 39 per cent underestimated the calorie content of a meal of chicken tikka masala with rice, one of the most popular UK dishes (800 Kcals).

A further 40 per cent also underestimated the calories in the office workers’ favourite medium latte and blueberry muffin (620 Kcals).

Almost half do less than the minimum recommended amount of 150 minutes per week, and 11 per cent of people said they do not do any at all.

The British Heart Foundation, Diabetes UK and Tesco are highlighting the results, to drive awareness that failure to understand how many calories are consumed could lead to weight gain. They believe this lack of understanding is one of the factors fuelling the high obesity rate in the UK, which in turn is leading to the high rate of cardiovascular disease, Type 2 diabetes and other chronic health conditions.

Over the next three years, the three organisations aim to raise £30 million, to be spent on a series of initiatives that will help people better understand how to lead a healthy lifestyle, with the ultimate ambition to make a positive change to the health of the nation.

As one of the first activities of the partnership, Tesco stores around the country are offering free health checks for 40,000 individuals this January. This includes a blood pressure check, a cholesterol test, a Type 2 diabetes test and a BMI (weight) check and takes about 20 minutes.

We need to take urgent action to help the public understand what a healthy diet looks like

Barbara Young, Chief Executive of Diabetes UK, said: “It is worrying that most of us don’t understand how many calories we are consuming as a nation but also what a healthy calorie intake looks like. This lack of awareness is one of the root causes of the high obesity levels that are, in turn, driving the soaring rate of Type 2 diabetes, as well as cardiovascular disease and other chronic conditions.

“We need to take urgent action to help the public understand what a healthy diet looks like and this, together with wider changes to society to make healthy choices easier, can make a big difference in turning back the rising tide of obesity. This is why we are delighted to be launching this new partnership because, by combining the expertise of the two charities with the reach and scale of Tesco, we are confident we can make a really big difference.”

Greg Sage, Community Director for Tesco said: “We’ve set an ambitious target of raising at least £30 million, which will be spent on a wide variety of projects over the next three years to reduce people’s risk of developing heart disease and Type 2 diabetes by eating healthier and better.”

To get one of the free health checks, go to any Tesco pharmacy during January. For more details, click here.

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