A Little Story...

Hey everyone, lighthearted post this week!  I've been sifting through a lot of research recently for a couple of ongoing projects for my internship and I came across this little gem...  A report of a Joint FAO/WHO/UNU Expert Consultation [you can see the citation here].  Well the report was done in 1985 and outlines protein and energy requirements in adults.  It's a lot of tables and prediction equations, but the best and funniest part about it are a handful of tables I came across towards the end of the document.  

They outline energy requirements (number of calories required in a day) by STEREOTYPE.  I couldn't even believe it!  Apparently being a dietitian is as simple as that, judging your clients and grouping them.  I'm sorry, my sarcasm can't escape my typing fingers, I just thought that this was one of the funniest things I'd seen in a long time.  

Below is a summary of their results, and I promise I took everything from their report verbatim.

  • Energy requirement of a male office clerk (light activity work): 2580 kcal/day  Age 25 years, weight 65 kg, height 1.72 m, BMI 22
  • Energy requirement of a subsistence farmer (moderate activity work): 2780 kcal/day  Age 25 years, weight 58 kg, height 1.61 m, BMI 22.4
  • Energy requirement of a healthy, retired elderly man: 1960 kcal/day   Age 75 years, weight 60 kg, height 1.6 m, BMI 23.5
  • Energy requirement of a housewife in an affluent society: 1990 kcal/day   Age 25 years, weight 55 kg, 1.5 m, BMI 24
  • Energy requirement of a rural woman in a developing country: 2235 kcal/day   Age 35 years, weight 50 kg, height 1.6 m, BMI 19.5

Take Home Messages

Housewives are usually under five feet and should be consuming about the same amount of energy per day as a healthy, retired man.  Don't worry ladies, these fine consultants of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, World Health Organization, and United Nations University already took into account "the extra hour needed to spend on household tasks and remaining household activities - such as sewing or knitting, ironing, some parts of food preparation, etc." and "included it in maintenance".  

Office clerks are young and healthful men that require only a peanut butter and jelly sandwich more per day than the slightly older rural women that are low-normal weight for height.  

No matter what stereotype was cast, everyone got eight hours of sleep according to the calculations, which is a lot more than can be said for the average person in the workforce nowadays!  


Hopefully someone other than me finds this amusing, otherwise it's a sure sign of too much PubMed and Web of Science.  I promise for a more nutritionally relevant and hopefully enlightening post later in the week!