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How calorific is YOUR favourite food? Britons think fish and chips has under 400 despite actual figure being nearer 1,000 – as poll reveals nation drastically underestimates sizes of pizza, chocolate and wine

  • Survey revealed average Britons reckons fish and chips contain 388 calories compared to true 1,000 figure
  • The poll of 1,500 adults also revealed how people misjudge how bad chocolate, pizza and wine is for waistline
  • Despite containing around 236 calories, adults think a standard bar of milk chocolate only has 187 

Britons drastically underestimate how calorific their favourite meals are, wrongly thinking that fish and chips has just a third of its actual amount.

Survey data released today claims that the average person reckons a large portion of the nation’s favourite meal contains 388 calories — the same as three packets of Walkers ready salted crisps.

But actually, the true count is closer to 1,000. It would be even higher when condiments like ketchup, tell me about the drug diovan gravy and curry sauce are added.

The poll, of 1,500 adults, also revealed how Britons misjudge how bad chocolate, pizza and even wine is for their waistline. 

Despite containing around 236 calories, adults think a standard bar of milk chocolate only has 187. 

Meanwhile, the average Briton estimates tucking into a slice of deep pan pepperoni pizza means they’ll consume 210 calories. Each piece contains roughly 505.

And a large glass of wine has 184 — despite adults believing it contains just 115, while a pint of lager contains 194, compared to the estimated 146.

Experts said the figures could explain why the UK faces an obesity epidemic as there are ‘so many calorific foods on offer and very few people actually know how many calories are in them’. 

Survey data released today claims that the average person reckons a large portion of the nation’s favourite meal contains 388 calories — the same as three packets of Walkers ready salted crisps. But actually, the true count is closer to 1,000. It would be even higher when condiments like ketchup, gravy and curry sauce are added. The poll, of 1,500 adults, also revealed how Britons misjudge how bad chocolate, pizza and even wine is for their waistline

Survey data released today claims that the average person reckons a large portion of the nation’s favourite meal contains 388 calories — the same as three packets of Walkers ready salted crisps. But actually, the true count is closer to 1,000. It would be even higher when condiments like ketchup, gravy and curry sauce are added


The poll, of 1,500 adults, also revealed how Britons misjudge how bad chocolate, pizza and even wine is for their waistline. Despite containing around 236 calories, adults think a standard bar of milk chocolate only has 187. Meanwhile, the average Briton estimates tucking into a slice of deep pan pepperoni pizza means they’ll consume 210 calories. Each piece contains roughly 505

• Eat at least 5 portions of a variety of fruit and vegetables every day. All fresh, frozen, dried and canned fruit and vegetables count

• Base meals on potatoes, bread, rice, pasta or other starchy carbohydrates, ideally wholegrain

• 30 grams of fibre a day: This is the same as eating all of the following: 5 portions of fruit and vegetables, 2 whole-wheat cereal biscuits, 2 thick slices of wholemeal bread and large baked potato with the skin on

• Have some dairy or dairy alternatives (such as soya drinks) choosing lower fat and lower sugar options

• Eat some beans, pulses, fish, eggs, meat and other proteins (including 2 portions of fish every week, one of which should be oily)

• Choose unsaturated oils and spreads and consuming in small amounts

• Drink 6-8 cups/glasses of water a day

• Adults should have less than 6g of salt and 20g of saturated fat for women or 30g for men a day

Source: NHS Eatwell Guide  

The data, gathered by calorie-counting app My Fitness Pal, shows Britons underestimate how many calories are in food by a third, compared to the average true calorie toll for the food in their database.

For lunchtime options, Britons estimated their jacket potato with beans had just 274 calories, when it actually has 433.

And those who believe they are opting for a healthy option with a shop-bought Caesar salad may be shocked to find it has 508 calories, compared to the 298 respondents believed it contained. 

A prawn mayo sandwich and a slice of cheddar cheese have around 100 calories more than Britons expected.

Britons were also at a loss when guessing the calories in food favourites among the health conscious. 

They thought avocados contained 149 calories — less than half the actual figure of 322 — and two tablespoons of peanut butter would add 107 calories to their daily total, compared to the true number 188.

For snack foods, respondents believed 100g of sweet popcorn would have just 289 calories. It actually contains 417. 

But Britons were slightly closer when they guessed salt and vinegar crisps have 100 calories, as the average packet contains 138. 

Those taking part in the survey underestimated the calories in dinner options by a quarter, estimating a restaurant potion of chicken tikka masala would set them back 820 calories, rather than 1,067. 

And they thought a cheeseburger would have 265 calories when it contains 364. 

And a chocolate brownie contains almost 600 calories (more than a quarter of a woman’s recommended daily allowance of 2,000) — yet the average Brit reckons it has just 441 calories.

The UK is one of the fattest countries in Europe, with 63 per cent of adults deemed overweight. Obesity rates are also soaring in children.

Nutritional expert Amanda Hamilton, a former BBC TV presenter, said: ‘These stats might go a little way to help us understand why we’re in such an incline of obesity in the UK. 

‘There are so many calorific foods on offer and very few people actually know how many calories are in them. Sadly, many of these calorie-confusing foods are also low on the nutrient scale, so it’s a double whammy.’

Professor Gunter Kuhnle, an expert in nutrition and food science at the University of Reading, told MailOnline he is not surprised by the survey results.

He said: ‘Estimating the calorie content of foods is incredibly difficult, especially when some of the “calories” are not obvious (such as the fat in fish and chips). 

‘I’m not sure whether this is really an explanation for increase in obesity – the difficulty in estimating intake hasn’t changed. 

‘The foods chosen in the survey are probably also foods where it is very easy to underestimate the calorie content.

‘People who are dieting (or of course those who have an eating disorder and focus on calories) would probably make much better estimates, as they would be more aware of the calorie content, but I don’t think that can be extrapolated in any way.’ 

Despite Britons being way off when estimating calories, almost a third (32 per cent) still try to count calories on a daily basis — but seven in ten will estimate rather than checking menus labels.

More than a fifth of those polled (22 per cent) are at a total loss when it comes to losing weight. 

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