Food and Behaviour Research

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23 Oct 2011 - BBC Radio 4 - The Food Programme - The Calorie

Sheila Dillon asks if the calorie is an outdated way of controlling diet and reducing obesity.

The ‘calorie’ took political centre stage recently.  Chief Medical Officer Sally Davies, appeared before the cameras to tell us that to turn the obesity tide, we must, as a nation, slash our eating by 5 billion calories a day. 

At least 60% of the population are over-eating and that’s aided by high-calorie or calorie-dense foods, which are heavy in fat, so what we need to do is help people understand what they’re doing, get them to be honest about what they’re doing and reduce what they’re eating and change their diets for the better.”  

This announcement came not long after the government’s scientific advisory committee on nutrition published figures showing that all of us who aren’t fat can actually eat more calories than previously thought.  Confusing!  Now, according to the Department of Health, we just need to be more conscious of what we eat, move more, and cut those calories with a little help from the food industry, and obesity will be on the way out.  Easy peasy! 

But what is a calorie and will eating fewer really make us a leaner nation?