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Study Finds Adults Do Not Have Basic Knowledge about Caloric Intake

Update Date: Oct 31, 2013 01:40 PM EDT

With the global obesity epidemic still at large, governments and organizations have been working hard to find ways of preventing obesity while helping already obese individuals lose weight. These initiatives have stressed the importance of exercise and eating right. Eating right is focused on picking healthier options as opposed to simply cutting calories. However, a new survey found that people do not seem to have a clue about how much calories they should eat for their bodies. The survey found that surprisingly, people are underestimating their caloric intake.  

"What was so interesting in our study is, people underestimated their needs across the board, showing a clear lack of knowledge surrounding calories," Lauren Headrick, the paper's lead author, said.

For this survey conducted by researchers from the University of Florida, the team, headed by Headrick and Cassie Rowe, interviewed 978 people with varying heights and weights that were mostly from the UF campus. The survey had 10 questions that asked participants for information, such as height, weight and level of physical activity. Based from these answers, the researchers calculated the recommended daily caloric intake for each individual.

The researchers discovered that people across all body mass indexes greatly underestimated how many calories they should intake everyday. For example, the researchers found that some people could consume 2,000 calories a day based on their physical activity level. However, the participants believed that they could only consume 1,500 calories. Even though earing fewer calories can help with weight loss or weight maintenance, the researchers stressed that it is important to fuel the body, especially if it needs it. However, the researchers stated that telling people they are consuming way below what they can consume could lead to the overconsumption of calories.

"On one hand, it may allow people to balance energy intake with physical activity to manage their weight," Rowe stated according to Medical Xpress. "On the other hand, I think most Americans get bogged down by the numbers. In this respect, knowing your calorie needs may lead to unnecessary stress surrounding counting calories."

The survey was published in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior.

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