Why 100,000 extra calories don’t equal 2 stone heavier

A Dutch rice cake company has provided the story for this week. Kallo is a well known brand name – the UK market leader for rice cakes no less. Kallo is owned by Wessanen, a Dutch producer of health and organic foods. Wessanen have just launched an advertising campaign – intended to encourage people to snack on their products, rather than less healthy alternatives. To get media coverage for the campaign, Wessanen did a survey of 1,000 women about their snacking ‘secrets’, particularly focused on the office environment. It turned out that women admitted eating an extra 2,240 calories every working week on average – 100,800 extra calories during the 45 working weeks a year. Crisps, biscuits, cakes, sweets and doughnuts were all ‘downfalls at the desk’. No doubt the Wessanen message is that we should all be eating rice cakes instead.

This was reported in the UK media as “Women consume a staggering 100,000 extra calories worth of crisps, sweets and chocolate EVERY YEAR - while sitting at their desks, reveals survey”. The Sun newspaper produced the headline to be dissected in this note: “DANGER DIETERS: Office workers scoff an extra 100,000 calories a year – that equates to TWO STONE on the scales” (One stone is 14lb for our American friends).

Lizzie Parry, Digital Health Editor for The Sun, reported: “For every 3,500 calories the general rule of thumb is it adds a pound of weight to your waistline - assuming it's not burned off.” The Daily Mail quoted a dietician, Helen Bond, who said: “I'm not surprised by these results but people need to be aware that an extra 3,500 calories a week, or 500 a day, means you put on an extra pound of fat.”

Did Lizzie and Helen not stop to wonder for one second why the average female, who has been working in an office for, say, 15 years has not gained more than 30 stone during that time?!

The 3,500 calorie theory remains one of the greatest myths to be perpetuated on a daily and global basis. Let’s look at why it is complete and utter nonsense:


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