Daily calorie consumption should be reduced to 1,800 calories a day, according to new health guidelines.
The current recommendation is for women to consume 2,000 calories a day and men 2,500 as part of a balanced diet.
But a new Public Health England (PHE) campaign next year is expected to recommend a ‘400-600-600′ rule. That means restricting food intake to 400 calories for breakfast, 600 for lunch and 600 for dinner.
An additional two healthy snacks of up to 100 calories each are permitted, bringing the total to 1,800 calories overall.
According to the government, adults currently consume an average of 200 to 300 more calories per day than they should.
The new guidance is due to be released as part of the One You nutrition campaign from March, the Daily Mail reported.
But Christopher Snowdon, head of lifestyle economics at the Institute of Economic Affairs think-tank told the newspaper: “It’s been well established for decades that reasonably active people need between 2,000 and 2,500 calories a day to maintain their weight.
“Public Health England’s latest calorie guidelines are not based on evidence and are essentially a lie designed to manipulate people into eating less.
“This nanny-state agency makes it up as it goes along.”
It is thought the guidelines are deliberately set low because people tend to underestimate their calorie intake and do not always include drinks.
Figures last month showed Britain is the sixth fattest nation in the world. One in four adults in the UK are obese, with another 36 per cent classed as overweight.
PHE says “calorie creep” is responsible for weight gain and people should opt for healthier choices.