92% of women and 35% of men on a diet get less calories than a CHILD

Are you eating less than a 7-year-old? 92% of women and 35% of men on a diet eat under the recommended calorie intake of a CHILD in a bid to lose weight fast, study finds

  • Nutrition brand Feel polled 2,644 British adults about their present diet habits
  • Four-in-five said that they were trying to lose weight before May 17 this year
  • Worryingly, 42% of dieting women are consuming less than 1,200 calories daily 
  • Excessive dieting causes nutrient deficiencies — with symptoms like hair loss

In a bid to lose weight fast, 92 per cent of women and 35 per cent of men on a diet eat less than the recommended calorie intake of a seven-year-old, a study found.

UK nutrition brand Feel polled 2,644 British adults, 80 per cent of whom said they were trying to lose weight by May 17, when social distancing rules will likely loosen.

The findings have exposed the prevalence of crash dieting, with significant numbers taking in less than the 1,530/1,649 daily calories recommended for young girls/boys.

Furthermore, the researchers found that 42 per cent of dieting women are putting themselves at serious risk by consuming less than 1,200 calories on a daily basis.

In a bid to lose weight fast, 92 per cent of women and 35 per cent of men on a diet eat less than the recommended calorie intake of a seven-year-old, a study found. Pictured: meagre fare

The NHS recommends a daily intake of 2,000 calories a day for women and 2,500 for men for healthy weight maintenance.

According to Feel, safe and sustainable weight loss is achieved with a calorie deficit of between 10–20 per cent.

Excessively rapid weight loss leads to nutrient deficiencies that can trigger dizziness fatigue, gallstones, hair loss and muscle wastage. 

Of those surveyed, adults between the ages of 18–25 were the most likely to consume less calories when dieting than any other age group.

‘It’s not news that many of us have put on a couple of pounds over lockdown,’ said Feel Nutritionist, Lauren Craven-Niemczyk.

‘With the end of the restrictions in sight, many Brits are looking to lose weight over the next few months, before the country opens up once more.’

‘If someone is wanting to budge a few pounds then we think it’s important they do it in the safest way possible.’

‘Unfortunately our society and social media feeds are full of crash diet promotions, which often result in some nasty side effects as well as unsustainable and short-term weight loss,’ she continued.

‘Restricting calories is a legitimate way of losing weight, however like with everything moderation is key — and it was startling to discover how much people are restricting themselves by.’

‘We hope that by sharing our results, Britons will reassess how beneficial their diet is, with their main goal to feel happy and confident come the summer time, without putting their body through months of malnutrition.’

As part of their survey, Feel asked dieting respondents to detail the weight loss plan they were following — and how many calories they consumed daily — from which they calculate the average daily calorie intake of each weight loss diet or product.

The most generous were Slimming World, Herbalife and Weight Watchers (at average reported values of 1,670, 1,308 and 1,500 calories per day, respectively).

In contrast, BoomBod and Exante were the most restrictive, with users reporting an average daily intake of 876 and 979 calories, respectively.

Almost four-fifths of those polled said that social media determined the diet that they followed — with Instagram the most popular source of dietary guidance, followed by Facebook and then TikTok.

In reaction to the findings of their survey, Feel has created a calculator where you can enter your age, sex, height and weight to find out how many calories you should consume daily to either maintain weight or lose it safely and sustainably.


An ideal daily intake of calories varies depending on age, metabolism and levels of physical activity, among other things.

Generally, the recommended daily calorie intake is 2,000 calories a day for women and 2,500 for men.

What are calories?

Calories are a measure of how much energy food or drink contains. The amount of energy you need will depend on:

  • your age — e.g. growing children and teenagers may need more energy
  • your lifestyle — for example, how active you are
  • your size — your height and weight can affect how quickly you use energy

Other factors can also affect how much energy you burn. For example:

  • some hormones — such as thyroid hormones
  • some medicines — such as glucocorticoids, used to treat inflammation
  • being unwell

Calories and kilocalories

The term calorie is commonly used as shorthand for kilocalorie. 

You will find this written as kcal on food packets. 

Kilojoules (kJ) are the equivalent of kilocalories within the International System of Units, and you’ll see both kJ and kcal on nutrition labels.

4.2 kJ is equivalent to approximately 1kcal.

Maintaining a healthy weight

To find out if you are a healthy weight, use the BMI calculator.

To maintain a healthy weight, you need to balance the amount of calories you consume through food and drink with the amount of calories you burn through physical activity.

Losing weight

To lose weight in a healthy way, you need to use more energy than you consume by eating a healthy, balanced diet with fewer calories while increasing your physical activity.

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