Exploring the sense and nonsense of food and health

How Many Calories Do You Need?

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With all the talk about putting the number of calories next to restaurant foods (mainly fast food establishments), it makes one wonder whether this will help people make better food choices.

According to a recent survey done by the International Food Information Council Foundation, most people do not know their calorie requirements in order to maintain their current weight.

The online survey included 1024 people and the major findings were not surprising. Most nutritionists say their patients do not appear to know much about calorie needs.


  • 58% say they don’t try to balance the calories they consume with the calories they burn since they do not know how many calories they need.
  • 70% said they were concerned about their weight.
  • 54% say they are trying to lose weight.
  • 23% are trying to maintain their weight.
  • 19% are doing nothing.
  • 4% are trying to gain weight.
  • Most trying to lose weight or maintaining  their weight say their reasons for not sticking with weight loss attempts are: Lack of willpower, lack of time, not seeing results quickly, and boredom.
  • 77% don’t meet the guidelines of 2/12 hours of moderate-intensity physical activity a week.

One of the reader comments from the original article may explain it all:

“I have never understood calories and I have never seen a calorie.  I  eat food and some how that has always worked out for me.  And I have never ever had a weight problem.  The real key here is exercise and not some invisible scientific formula by some egghead.”

Don’t we wish we all could say the same thing?

Here is an egghead estimate of how many calories we need to maintain your current weight.  These are only general estimates.


Ages 19-30 – Active 2400; Moderately active 2200; Sedentary 2000

Ages 31-50– Active 2200; moderately active 2000; Sedentary 1800

Ages >51 – Active 2000; moderately active 1800; sedentary 1600


Ages 19-30 – Active 3,000; moderately active 2600; sedentary 2400

Ages 31-50 – Active 2800; moderately active 2400; sedentary 2200

Ages >51 – Active 2400; moderately active 2200; sedentary 2000


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