You're probably lying about how much you eat (but the whole country is too)

Lynsey Barber
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UK Has The Highest Obesity Rate In Europe
Eating less? Perhaps not as much as you think (Source: Getty)

The nation is in a bit of a conundrum when it comes to the problem of obesity. The number of people who are overweight is rising, but people say they are eating less.

How to explain this puzzle?

Now, researchers at what was formerly the government's so-called nudge unit, have identified the potential crux of the problem - we're drastically underreporting how much we're eating.

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The Behavioural Insights Team (BIT) research found that based on official statistics, the energy we expend exercising daily and the number of calories we say that we take in indicate we should be losing weight. But, we're not.

For instance, back in the 1970s, we said we were consuming more than 2,500 calories each day. By the 2000s that had fallen under 2,100 calories per day.

Yet, obesity levels have ballooned.

This has previously been explained by the nation becoming more sedentary and doing less exercise, however, the researchers found this could not explain the increase; the increase is too large and it doesn't take into account that the heavier people are taking in a greater amount of energy (calories) to sustain that size.

We're even buying more calories, retail market data shows.

Our misreporting of what we eat is estimated to be between 30 and 50 per cent lower than it actually is, according to the researchers - a difference of around 1,000 calories, on average.

But, It's not like we're lying about what we eat on purpose though.

Those who are trying to lose weight are likely to be underreporting their intake, according to BIT. Meanwhile, increased snacking away from home and falling rates of response to the national survey from which the data is collected, in addition to portion sizes, may also be to blame.

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Why does it matter?

The governments' drive to reduce obesity is a result of our understanding of the problem. With obesity levels in the UK continuing to rise, the way the government tackles the problem may not necessarily be working if its based on faulty assumptions like our daily calorie intake.

Now, as a result of the findings, the government will assess the way it counts the calorie counting.

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