Research published by the Food Standards Agency (FSA) reveals only 44% of women and 15% of men in Northern Ireland know how many calories they should aim to consume in a day .
To help tackle this issue, the FSA in NI has launched a new campaign, ‘Know Your Calories’, to increase awareness of the recommended daily calorie intake in NI. While the amount of calories can vary based on a variety of factors like age and amount of daily activity, the general guide is 2,000kcal per day for women and 2,500kcal per day for men.
Starting today and running throughout March, the ‘Know Your Calories’ campaign will help people to become aware of their recommended daily calorie intake and check calorie content on food labels on packaged foods and on menus when eating out.
Maria Jennings, Director, FSA in NI said:
“Our research tells us that many people are unaware of what the recommended daily calorie intake is and they are confused about where to check for calorie information. We also know that only half (49%) of adults in Northern Ireland have seen calorie information at restaurants and cafes.
“This campaign will help people understand how many calories they should eat a day and where to find calorie information on food labels and menus when eating out. We want to help people make better choices when it comes to living a healthy, balanced lifestyle.”
Commenting on the research, Dr Michael McBride, Chief Medical Officer said: “The FSA’s recent research shows 60% of Northern Ireland adults think their personal eating habits are healthy. However, around 63% of adults in Northern Ireland are overweight or obese , a figure which has remained fairly constant for the past decade.
“These statistics are worrying and as health professionals we have a duty of care and a key role to play in raising awareness so that people know more about calories which will help them make the right choices about living healthier lifestyles. This campaign links directly into the Government’s programme to promote healthier lifestyles so that ultimately we can all enjoy long, healthy, active lives. It also compliments the Government’s obesity prevention strategy, ‘A Fitter Future for All 2012-22’ where food provision and choices within health and social care have been highlighted as an important area for development.”
In addition to making the public aware of how many calories men and women should consume, the campaign will also communicate the health implications of regularly consuming too many calories.
Mary Black, Assistant Director for Health and Social Wellbeing Improvement at the Public Health Agency, added:
“Knowing your daily calorie intake is an important first step in beginning to make healthier choices. Regularly eating or drinking more calories than we need can lead to becoming overweight and obese. This can increase the risk of developing a range of chronic conditions such as heart disease, some cancers and type 2 diabetes. By maintaining a healthy weight through healthier food choices and being more physically active, we can help reduce these risks as well as boosting our mental health and reducing stress and anxiety.”
To learn more about the FSA’s ‘Know Your Calories’ campaign, visit food.gov.uk/knowyourcalories or visit FSA on Facebook at Food Standards Agency in Northern Ireland and on Twitter @FSAinNI.
 The survey was conducted by 2CV on behalf of the Food Standards Agency. The survey used a nationally representative sample of 311 adults in Northern Ireland.
 Northern Ireland Department of Health, 2017