Calorie Counting? You’re Way Off The Mark!

Brits drastically underestimate calorie content of foods, reveals a new study

As I tuck into my morning granola I feel satisfied with myself, knowing I’m that step closer to eternal youth and the dream body. But while granola may be a good option when it comes to fuelling your busy day, it’s due to its properties and the slow-releasing energy it provides you with, not because it’s a sin free start to the day. A recent survey revealed that the average Brit believes that a saintly breakfast bowl full of granola contains around 145 calories when actually it is nearer 450. And it’s not just the grains that get us in a muddle, most of us are seriously underestimating the calorie counts of our favourite foods.

Calorie counting? Brits are getting it wrong finds Belle About Town

The average Brit believes a bowl of granola contains around 145 calories when actually it is nearer 450

Researchers quizzed a cross-section of men and women in the UK on their calorie intake and found the majority of us underestimate exactly how calorific our favourite foods are. In fact, the study by Laughing Cow showed the average adult assumes there are just 270 calories in a large portion of cinema popcorn, when in fact there can be up to 965.

A supermarket pepperoni pizza, a staple of many UK freezers contains a staggering 1,100 calories, but respondents guessed an average of 355. And a large portion of fries is likely to contain as many as 445 calories, however those surveyed said they thought it was just 270 – while a double stacked burger has around 500 calories, but the respondents guessed 380.

The study into the nation’s eating habits revealed that while the average Brit tries to consume an average of 1,920 calories a day, due to the number of snacks we indulge in the true intake is around 2,635.

More worryingly, over a third of respondents (36%) weren’t even sure what a calorie is, with two thirds saying they often completely lose track of the number of calories that they consume each day.

A burger like this contains around 500 calories, but Brits guessed 380

A burger like this contains around 500 calories, but respondents guessed 380

Alexandra Labaisse, Brand Manager at The Laughing Cow, told Belle About Town: “Too often we are reaching for snacks that, when we think about it properly, we don’t want. Whether it is a soggy sandwich left over after a meeting or a bowl of salty crisps that you devour on auto-pilot in front of the TV, it is clear we will simply graze without much thought.

“However, being mindful about what we are consuming and ensuring we dedicate the time to snack well means we can avoid snaccidents and enjoy a delicious snack without the guilt.”

The average adult thought a typical 50g portion of prawn crackers contained just 150 calories, when in fact it is nearer to 285.

Many Brits are also clueless when it comes how many calories men and women need to maintain their weight, with as many as 12 percent thinking men need a whopping 3,000 calories to stay the same weight, when actually it is 2,500.

Almost a fifth of women had no idea what they typically need to consume to maintain their weight. The poll of 2,000 Brits also found that 17 percent of adults exceed their calorie allowance every day, with the average adult in the UK checking the calorie content on packaging just four times a week.

A quarter of adults said if they knew how many calories their favourite snacks and treats contained, it would stop them from eating them; and six in ten adults said they were amazed when they learnt how many calories were in their beloved foods and soft drinks.

Wine, lager and cola were among the only foods where adults overestimated the calorie content.


1. Slice of chocolate cake (70g) – actual calorie content: 310; Brits think the calories are: 255

2. Milk chocolate bar (45g) – actual calorie content: 240; Brits think the calories are: 200

3. Bowl of granola (100g) – actual calorie content: 450; Brits think the calories are: 145

4. Prawn crackers (50g) – actual calorie content: 285; Brits think the calories are: 150

5. Peanut butter (2 tablespoons) – actual calorie content: 365; Brits think the calories are: 155

6. 1 poppadum – actual calorie content: 125; Brits think the calories are: 100

7. Large Cinema Sweet Popcorn (198g) – actual calorie content: 965; Brits think the calories are: 270

8. 1 supermarket pepperoni pizza (490g) – actual calorie content: 1,100; Brits think the calories are: 355

9. Large fries – actual calorie content: 445; Brits think the calories are: 270

10. Double stacked burger – actual calorie content: 500; Brits think the calories are: 380

Emily Cleary

Emily Cleary

After almost a decade chasing ambulances, and celebrities, for Fleet Street’s finest, Emily has taken it down a gear and settled for a (slightly!) slower pace of life in the suburbs. With a love of cheese and fine wine, Emily is more likely to be found chasing her toddlers round Kew Gardens than sipping champagne at a showbiz launch nowadays, or grabbing an hour out of her hectic freelancer’s life to chill out in a spa while hubby holds the babies. If only!


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