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Calorie Intake

Volume 438: debated on Monday 9 June 1947

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asked the Minister of Food the average calorie intake per person per day for the year 1946, including all consumption of food whether at home or outside.

Is the Minister able to say how these figures support the oft-repeated boast that we are better off than before the war?

I do not know to which boast the hon. Member refers. What I have said repeatedly is that, on the way we calculate the calorie intake—that is, per capita of the population—it is 6 per cent. less than before the war. I have added that there is now a far better distribution of foodstuffs, which means that the poorer section of the people are undoubtedly better fed.

Can the right hon. Gentleman tell us how those figures compare with the estimates of a certain calculation given in another place the other day?

Naturally, they are the same. [Interruption.] Yes. The figure was given as 2,880, and the actual calculation comes out at 2,887, to be exact.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that, obviously, the housewives of this country must think that they are fed well, hence the falling flat of the great demonstration which took place in Trafalgar Square?

Surely, it is a question of the food coming into the country, as against the total number al persons, and not in any way the individual intake of the consumers, which is what matters?

As I understand the point put by the right hon. and gallant Gentleman it is that certain individual consumers are obviously consuming less and certain others are consuming more. The figure I have given is an average, and that must be true of any average figure.

But the fact is that these high figures are given for the total intake, which, of course, takes into account every single thing brought into the country, whether eaten or not. Will the right hon. Gentleman look into the matter again? Will he agree that the result of his own dietary survey has been to show an intake of nothing like that, but a very much smaller intake?

I could not possibly agree with any of those statements. Of course, the figure is calculated on the total amount of food available, and the most careful allowances are made for wastage in distribution and other factors of that sort, and use for other than food consumption. That is always most carefully taken into account, and it is an average figure, and, of course, it must be true of any average figure that certain individuals were above that figure and certain other individuals below it. That is the only qualification.

Does not the Minister agree that the figure of 2,900 is very much higher than the figure of 2,300, which he gave as the result of the dietary survey?

I agree that 2,900 is a higher figure than 2,300. That is undoubtedly true, but the 2,300, of course, leaves out certain things, such as foodstuffs distributed to catering establishments, canteens and the like.