University of Essex study finds everyone underestimates calorie intake

A STUDY conducted by health experts has found people underestimate the number of calories they consume by nearly 1,000 calories – or three McDonald’s cheeseburgers.

Researchers at the University of Essex, based in Wivenhoe Park, Colchester, have discovered people fib about the amount of food they eat, regardless of their waistline.

On average, for example, foodies digest 900 additional calories every day which they otherwise fail to take into consideration or register.

This equates to same as five pints of lager, seven packets of ready salted crips, 18 apples, 300 cherry tomatoes or three McDonald’s cheeseburgers.

The study, which assessed 221 adults with an average age of 54 and a range of body shapes, took into account the amount of energy a person burns in a day.

Those who took part were asked to keep a food diary before experts used radioactive water and urine testing to conclude the amount of energy consumed.  

The results showed obese people burn more energy doing day-to-day tasks and do not lie about their food intake any more than their slimmer peers.   

As a result, doubt has now been cast over official guidelines which claim Britain’s bulging waistlines are due to obese people not telling the truth about their diet. 

Professor Gavin Sandercock, from the University of Essex’s School of Sport, Rehabilitation, and Exercise Sciences, led the project.

He said: “We used an innovative mathematical model to correct for the difference in body size between obese and non-obese adults.

“When we took into account the different body size and the different energy needs they have there was no difference in how much they underreported their food intake.

“The idea obese people lie about their food intake is wrong.”

The results of the study come after the Government backtracked on a proposed ban on ‘buy one get one free’ junk food deals and a 9pm watershed for sugary snacks. 

Prof Sandercock added: “Recognising the measures of energy intake are incorrect might result in the setting of more realistic targets.

“Additionally, changing the narrative around obese people fibbing about their energy intake might change the focus to investigating dietary risk factors for obesity.”