Men are almost four times as likely as women to have a poor grasp of how many calories they need to consume daily for their age and activity level, a U.S. study suggests.
For the current study, researchers examined data on 6,267 adults surveyed about their health and eating habits in 2007-2008 and 2009-2010.
Overall, 37% of men and 17% of women were unable to correctly answer questions about how many calories they would need daily to maintain their current weight, based on their age, sex and activity levels.
To get the right answer, people had to pick the right calorie range from a list of choices: 500-1,000; 1,001-1,500; 1,501-2000; 2,001-2,500; 2,501-3,000 or more than 3,000.
It’s possible, even likely, that some participants may have simply guessed in the correct range. As a result, the analysis probably overestimates how many people answered correctly.
The gender gap in calorie knowledge persisted across racial and ethnic groups as well as different ages, incomes and education levels.
While obesity has many causes, consuming too many calories is a big part of the problem.
However, the study can’t show whether knowing daily calorie needs impacts how much people actually eat, or whether they are overweight.
But having a good idea of how many calories your body needs is helpful for managing your weight.
It’s also important to know that calorie requirements decrease as we get older, something that needs to be factored into daily food choices and portion sizes.
The USDA has a free online calculator that determines calorie needs based on age, gender, height, weight and activity level.
All research on this web site is the property of Leslie Beck Nutrition Consulting Inc. and is protected by copyright. Keep in mind that research on these matters continues daily and is subject to change. The information presented is not intended as a substitute for medical treatment. It is intended to provide ongoing support of your healthy lifestyle practices.