- Markus Spiske / Unsplash
- Public Health England has issued new advice for how many calories adults should eat per day.
- Men and women should aim for 1,800 calories per day, which is considerably less than official guidelines of 2,500 for men, and 2,000 for women.
- PHE is issuing the advice because many people don’t account for calorific drinks when calculating their daily calorie intake, and go over the recommended guidelines.
- Critics say the advice is a panic measure in response to an increasingly overweight population.
For ages, calorie guidelines have been the same – men should consume about 2,500 calories per day, and women should have 2,000.
But Public Health England (PHE) has issued new guidelines to urge adults to reduce the amount of food they eat.
Both men and women should aim for 1,800 calories over their three meals a day, PHE says, as people in the UK are consuming more than we should. About 200-300 calories more, in fact.
The idea behind these new recommendations is that you only count the calories in food, and ignore those from drinks. Calories can be split over the course of the day: 400 at breakfast, 600 at lunch and dinner, then 200 for snacks.
PHE’s still officially advises that you hit 2,000 or 2,500 calories a day overall, depending on your gender. But those numbers include drinks as well as food, and the new advice is intended to encourage people to think more carefully about how many calories they consume through food alone.
PHE also wants to work with popular chains to persuade them to offer healthier meals, as part of a campaign expected to launch in March 2018 called “One You.”
“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,” said a PHE spokesperson. “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.”
However, not everyone is convinced. Speaking to the Daily Mail, Tam Fry from the National Obesity Forum said the new guidelines are a “panic measure” to get the public to understand they are eating too much.
“Portion sizes are getting bigger and people are mindlessly eating them just because they are there,” he said. “The idea is sound because we are eating too much, but my feeling is the thresholds are too low.”
Christopher Snowdon, head of lifestyle economics at the Institute of Economic Affairs think-tank, told the Daily Mail that the original calorie guidelines have been established for decades, and there is nothing wrong with them.
“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.”