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85% of Northern Ireland men have no idea how many calories a day is healthy

By Victoria Leonard

Just 15% of men in Northern Ireland know what their daily calorie intake should be, compared to 44% of women, according to new research by the Food Standards Agency (FSA).

The FSA in Northern Ireland is today launching a new campaign 'Know Your Calories' to tackle the issue by increasing public awareness of the recommended daily calorie intake.

While the amount of calories can vary, based on factors like age and amount of daily activity, the general guide is 2,000kcal per day for women and 2,500kcal per day for men.

Starting today and running throughout March, the campaign will help people to become aware of their recommended daily intake and check calorie content on food labels on packaged foods and on menus when eating out.

FSA NI director Maria Jennings said: "Our research tells us that many people are unaware of what the recommended daily calorie intake is and they are confused about where to check for calorie information.

"We also know that only half (49%) of adults in Northern Ireland have seen calorie information at restaurants and cafés.

"This campaign will help people understand how many calories they should eat a day and where to find calorie information on food labels and menus when eating out.

"We want to help people make better choices when it comes to living a healthy, balanced lifestyle."

Commenting on the research, Chief Medical Officer Dr Michael McBride said: "The FSA's recent research shows 60% of Northern Ireland adults think their personal eating habits are healthy.

"However, around 63% of adults in Northern Ireland are overweight or obese, a figure which has remained fairly constant for the past decade.

"These statistics are worrying and as health professionals we have a duty of care and a key role to play in raising awareness so that people know more about calories, which will help them make the right choices about living healthier lifestyles."

Mary Black, assistant director for Health and Social Wellbeing Improvement at the Public Health Agency, said that maintaining a healthy weight and being more physically active could reduce the risk of developing a range of medical conditions, such as heart disease, some cancers and type 2 diabetes.

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