London: In a bid to cut down obesity, men and women living in Britain are being urged to reduce their intake of calories to just 1,600 a day, according to new health guidelines.
The suggestions from Public Health England (PHE) -- a government agency for preventing ill health -- include 400 calories for breakfast, 600 for lunch and 600 for dinner and this does not include drinks, the Daily Mail reported. For those who follow this, 200 calories in form of snacks can be taken. The new amount is below the current recommended daily intake of 2,000 calories for women and 2,500 for men.
The new calorie guidelines -- the One You nutrition campaign -- will be rolled out by PHE in March, and adults will be told to remember the "400-600-600" rule. Officials are also in talks with coffee shop chains and supermarkets to promote healthy breakfast and lunch options within the limit.
"We can no longer hide behind the charade that having a takeaway or eating out is merely a treat. Adults consume 200 to 300 excess calories each day and this calorie creep is contributing to weight gain and other serious health conditions," a PHE spokesman was quoted telling the Daily Mail.
"This is why we're working with high street chains to offer healthier options through our reduction programmes and new One You nutritional campaign," the spokesman added.
Obesity rates for British men and women are at 27 per cent -- the highest in any country in western Europe. An average adult is overeating by 300 calories a day, and this so-called "calorie-creep" is leading to a steady weight gain, officials said.
The guidelines "is a panic measure to get the public to understand they are eating too much", Tam Fry, of the National Obesity Forum, was quoted as telling the Daily Mail. "Portion sizes are getting bigger and bigger and people are mindlessly eating them just because they are there. The idea is sound because we are eating too much, but my feeling is the thresholds are too low," Fry added.
However, the guidelines are merely a "rule of thumb" rather than strict limits, the government agency said. Experts, on the other hand, have criticised the move. The calorie guidelines are "not based on evidence and are essentially a lie designed to manipulate people into eating less", said Christopher Snowdon from the Institute of Economic Affairs think-tank. (IANS)