New survey: Most people are 'calorie oblivious'


by Wendy Rigby / KENS 5

Posted on July 12, 2010 at 12:17 PM

Updated Saturday, Nov 2 at 5:08 AM

Many people know their cholesterol number or their blood pressure. But what about how many calories they need every day? A new survey shows most people don’t have a clue as to how much food they need.

Call it calorie oblivion. Apparently most of us don’t really know how much food we need to be consuming to maintain our weight, or to lose weight, if we need to. In these days of careful food labeling, it’s pretty easy to find out how many calories are in each serving.
“A lot of people just don’t know what those numbers would be,” said University of Texas Health Science Center registered dietitian Sue Cunningham, Ph.D., “not being self-aware of how many calories or the energy needs or the activity needs that we have.”
A survey by the International Food Information Council Foundation found 63% of people can’t estimate the number of calories they need each day. 25% won’t even venture a guess, and only 12% of respondents knew how many calories they should be consuming.
How many calories depends on several factors, including gender, age, height, weight, and of course, how much you move around.
The range is great. The average small, sedentary woman only needs 1400 to 1600 calories a day, while a highly-trained endurance athlete needs to eat 4000 or more to maintain his weight.
If you’re clueless about your calorie needs, Cunningham recommends a government website called “My Pyramid” that can help you calculate a figure to aim towards.
“Journaling, writing down what they’re eating, keeping track of it and putting it into a website, a software package like what’s on the website can help that person figure out how many calories they’re taking in,” Cunningham recommended.
With servings of sugary sodas getting bigger, people need to factor in the calories they’re drinking as well. Those calories don’t satisfy your hunger like food. Cutting down on liquid calories is an easy way to help control your weight.
The bottom line is simple. The calories you burn in a day have to equal the calories you consume or you’ll gain weight. That’s why knowing the number is important.