Adults eat up to 300 more calories a day than they need

Most of us realise that eating more calories than we burn can result in weight gain. And now Public Health England (PHE) suggests adults are eating on average 200 - 300 more calories than they need each day – which may account for the fact that two thirds of adults in England are currently overweight or obese.

While 300 extra calories may not sound like much, if you regularly eat that much more than you need the excess can build up over time, with weight gain the most likely result. But weight gain isn’t the only problem, since obesity is linked with a range of other health issues including heart disease, Type 2 diabetes and some cancers.

The current recommended daily calorie intake is 2,000 for women and 2,500 for men. However according to PHE adults get around a quarter of their calories from eating out, and this could mean many are having more calories than they realise. Take a common meal deal of a sandwich, a packet of crisps and a sugary soft drink for instance – this may contain up to 800 calories, suggest PHE experts.

“It’s clear that excess calories are driving weight gain for many,” says Dr Alison Tedstone, chief nutritionist at PHE. “Busy lives and too much food mean we’re often eating more food than we realise – especially when we’re grabbing food out and about. This can have a significant impact on our waistlines and our health.”

To make it easier for people to be more aware of the calories they eat on the go and to help them make healthier choices, PHE has issued a simple tip:

Aim for 400 – 600 – 600

This means having around 400 calories for breakfast, 600 for lunch and 600 for dinner, plus a couple of healthy snacks and drinks in between. And many high-street food outlets are supporting the campaign – including Greggs, McDonalds and Subway – by providing a range of options to help people find 400 and 600-calorie meals.

“The 400 – 600 – 600 tips can help people make healthier choices when eating and drinking on the go,” adds Dr Tedstone. “It’s encouraging to see major high-street companies promoting lower calorie options, and we hope more will follow suit.”

Greggs: Look for products from the Balanced Choice range, which all contain fewer than 400 calories.

“We know that choice is very important to our customers and while our traditional favourites are much loved, we are also able to offer our customers a variety of healthier options that they can enjoy on the go,” says Greggs chief executive Roger Whiteside.

“To support this campaign we will be providing information in our shops as well as on our customer website to highlight our breakfast and lunch combinations which meet the 400 – 600 – 600 rule of thumb.”

McDonald’s: Look for Fruit Bags, Carrot Bags, wraps and salads. The company also offers Meals Under menu bundles that bring together a range of options under 400 or 600 calories.

“The bundles are clearly displayed on our self-order screens and show customers a main menu item, a drink and a side for breakfast, lunch or dinner – making it simple for people to follow the 400 – 600 – 600 rule of thumb when eating on the go,” says McDonalds UK vice president Victoria Hodson.

“Our bundles include many of our customers’ favourites including the Egg and Cheese McMuffin, McChicken Sandwich, Chicken McNuggets and our Big Flavour Wraps.”

Subway: Look for Six-inch Subs, salads and flatbreads under 600 calories.

“We are helping our customers keep within their daily calorie recommendation,” says Subway UK and Ireland marketing director, Sacha Clark.

“It’s really important that customers looking to make healthier meal choices know their daily recommended intake of calories. What’s more, Subway provides a choice of breads, including 9-grain wheat bread that’s high in fibre. Choose all the salad in a Six-inch Sub and you are guaranteed to get one of your 5 A Day for fruit and veg.”

For further details of the 400 – 600 – 600 campaign, visit the One You website.

For lots more tips to help you manage your weight – at home or when eating out – have a chat with your local Careway pharmacist. Find your nearest Careway pharmacy by using our Pharmacy Finder.