How Much Food Do People Need?

July 12, 2011

Healthy Life

How Much Food Do People Need?

People differ in the amount of energy (calories) they require and that is what affects the amount of food, in total, that individuals need. However much people need, the proportion of food from the different groups should remain the same as shown in The Balance of Good Health. So, for example, someone with a low daily energy
requirement of, say, 1200 calories would need the same proportions of food from the five food groups as someone with a high daily requirement of, say, 3000 calories.
Things that affect people’s overall energy needs are:
• gender – women tend to need less energy than men
• age – older adults need less energy than adolescents and young adults
• being overweight – being heavier than the healthy weight range for an individual’s height means less energy is required to achieve a healthy weight
• being very physically active – the more active people are, the greater their energy needs

About portion sizes

About portion sizes

What about vitamin and mineral supplements?

Vitamin and mineral supplements are not a replacement for good eating habits. Most people can get all the nutrients their body needs by choosing a variety of foods, in the proportions shown, from the five food groups in The Balance of Good Health.Some people need certain supplements. Women who are pregnant, or are planning to become pregnant, need extra folic acid and may need extra iron. Older people may need extra Vitamin D and/or iron. People should consult a doctor, nurse or
dietitian if they think they need to take a vitamin or mineral supplement.

What about combination or composite foods?

Much of the food people eat is in the form of dishes or meals with more than one kind of food in them.
For example, pizzas, casseroles, pies, lasagne, spaghetti bolognese and sandwiches are all made with foods from more than one of the five food groups. These are often called combination or composite foods. Many manufactured foods are combination foods.
To make healthy choices, people will need to identify the main food items or ingredients in combination foods and think about how these fit with the proportions shown in The Balance of Good Health.

Super size Me

Super size Me

What about portion sizes?

The Balance of Good Health encourages people to eat more portions of fruit and vegetables than most people currently do (five or more portions a day are recommended). See the box for a rough guide to portion sizes.
The Balance of Good Health also suggests that people eat increased amounts of bread, other cereals and potatoes – in practical terms this may result in bigger rather than more portions.
The Balance of Good Health does not currently include specific information about portion sizes (apart from fruit and vegetables). This is because this kind of information is potentially misleading, as everyone has different individual needs that are difficult to quantify.

Calculate your calorie goal:
YOUR CURRENT WEIGHT X 12 = calories needed to maintain your weight

• To lose 1 pound per week: Cut 500 calories/day
• To lose 2 pounds per week: Cut 1,000 calories/day

Free: Ultimate Calorie, Carb and Fat Guide


The Food Standards Agency
is a UK-wide, non-ministerial government department, providing advice and information to the public and government on food safety, nutrition and diet.

This site is for information and support only and NOT a substitute for professional diagnosis and treatment!
food, unhealthy foods

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