Can a scone equal a third of recommended daily calories?

CLAIM: A scone can equal a third of one’s recommended daily calories

CONCLUSION: Accurate with consideration. An average scone equals a fifth of recommended daily calories for females, and a sixth for males. The number of calories tends to be proportionate to the size of a scone rather than the luxuriousness of its filling.

On 11 February 2019, a headline of the Irish News and the Belfast Telegraph stated that “One large scone can equal a third of recommended daily calories”. Both articles used a Press Association report that referred to “a survey”.

A delicious survey?

In the Nutritional Content of Scones report, published by Environmental Health Northern Ireland and the Food Standards Agency, a survey was held from January 2018 until the end of March 2018, whereby “each of the 11 district councils in NI sampled scones from high street coffee shops and cafes across Northern Ireland”. The 57 sampled scones were categorised as plain, fruit (e.g., cherry, date and wheaten), or luxury (e.g. white chocolate and raspberry). Multinational chains, such as Starbucks, Costa, Nero, Greggs, were excluded (because they are covered in the work by Public Health England). Public Analyst Scientific Services subsequently identified the samples’ “portion size (g) and nutritional information (energy, sugar, fat, saturated fat, fibre and salt)”.

The report states that “the highest calorie scone, without the addition of spread or jam, provides over a third (38%) of the recommended daily calorie intake”.

Scone calories

The scone with the highest value of calories measured during the survey contained 756kcal. A chart in the report shows that this scone was an outlier in terms of its calorie content.

For people aged 19 to 64, the Government Dietary Recommendations suggest a daily intake of 2,000kcal for females and 2,500kcal for males. The largest scone of the survey, then, indeed equals a third of recommended calories; taking up 37.8% of a daily female diet, and 30.2% of a daily male diet.

The average calorie value of the surveyed scones was 408 kcal.

An average scone therefore equals one fifth (20.4%) of the recommended calorie intake for females, and one-sixth (16.3%) for males.

Size matters

The weight of the scones sampled ranged from 44g to 238g with the average weight 129g.

In their analysis of calories per 100g , the results showed similar values across the three categories: 317kcal/100g for plain scones, 312kcal/100g for fruit scones, and 313kcal/100g for luxury scones.

Thus, regardless of the category or type of scone, the most significant factor, according to this survey’s results, is size.

The report recommends coffee shops to apply calorie labelling to scones that they produce, to allow consumers to make a more informed choice.

Likewise, the report recommends that consumers should be aware of the portion size of scones (such as illustrated below):

Image source: Image by GX6 on Pixabay used by license