12 inch pizza can contain more than total recommended daily calorie intake

27 Feb, 2012. A person eating an ‘average’ 12 inch size pizza in one sitting can consume more than their entire requirement of calories, saturated fat and salt for a full day according to new research(1) by safefood. The research is the latest in a series of reviews of takeaway foods and continues safefood’s work in helping consumers make more informed choices when eating food that is prepared outside the home. With 40% of the population eating pizza at least once a week(2), the research revealed very limited availability of healthier options when ordering takeaway pizza. safefood also found that that over half of people(2) choose a 12 inch pizza and that 1 in 5 were now choosing a “large” sized pizza.
Commenting on the research, Dr. Cliodhna Foley-Nolan, Director, Human Health & Nutrition, safefood said “Size matters when it comes to pizza and we’re tending to choose bigger sized pizzas and more processed meats for toppings. It’s also concerning that we don’t realise the high level of calories, salt and saturated fat that we’re consuming in the pizza. And that’s before you begin to consider the side orders like chips, wedges and garlic bread that we are frequently tempted to buy to accompany a pizza.”
The safefood research, which analysed* 240 takeaway pizzas of three varieties from 60 different outlets also found limited availability of healthier options across pizza outlets, with only 10% of those surveyed offering options such as lower-fat cheese, thin pizza base or additional vegetable toppings. Only 7% offered children’s size options.
In general, pizzas from take away outlets were higher in calories, salt and fat when compared to the equivalent shop bought pizza. Thin based pizza types were found to be the healthiest across all outlets whereas deep base pizzas were found to contribute significantly more calories per pizza.
Dr Foley Nolan added “Consumers can make healthier choices by considering just what makes up their pizza and choosing a thinner base, lower fat cheese and more vegetables such as sweet corn, tomatoes and mushrooms, and less processed meats such as pepperoni or bacon as toppings. Sharing a 12 inch pizza is a reasonable portion size and pizzas should be eaten as an ‘occasional’ food in moderation, maybe once a week or less frequently.”

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For more information, please contact:

Orla Dormer/Serena Leyden, WHPR

Tel: 01 669 0030 / Mobile: 085 708 6877 (Orla)

Email: orla.dormer@ogilvy.com/serena.leyden@ogilvy.com


Dermot Moriarty, safefood
Tel: 01 448 0600 / Mobile: 086 381 1034

Healthier pizza tips for consumers

  • Many takeaways offer both deep and thin crust varieties –opt for a thinner crust, small or medium pizza rather than a large, deep base
  • Many pizzas will include cheese as a topping, which adds considerably to the saturated fat content. Ask for lower fat cheese options or a smaller portion of cheese
  • Meat-based toppings such as pepperoni, spicy beef or bacon are high in calories and salt, especially ‘meat lover’ or ‘extra pepperoni’ varieties. Try adding chicken, turkey or tuna as protein/meat toppings, as these are all lower in fat, calories and salt
  • Adding more vegetables as toppings such as sweet corn, peppers, mushrooms, onions, olives, etc. all contribute towards your ‘five a day’ recommendation
  • Sharing a 12 inch pizza is a reasonable portion size for adults and serve with a side salad instead of the more usual sides of garlic bread, chips or wedges
  • Takeaway pizzas are high in fat and salt compared to many products prepared at home – consider them an ‘occasional food’ to be eaten once a week or less often (allowing for other foods to be consumed throughout the day)
  • The majority of shop-bought frozen pizzas contain details on their packaging about their nutritional content, as well as a comparison table with the GDA for those nutrients. Compare like-for-like available options for a healthier choice

Editors notes

*Pizzas were analysed to establish their energy, total fat, saturated fat, protein and salt content and included both thin and deep base pizzas. Analysis of the samples was undertaken by two accredited laboratories – Food Analytical Laboratories (FAL) and Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI), Northern Ireland. The three pizza types surveyed were Hawaiian, Pepperoni and Cheese and Tomato.

(1)Nutrition takeaway series – Takeaway pizza; safefood 2012.
(2)Safetrak 13; safefood/Millward Brown Lansdowne; November 2011. Face to face survey of 810 adults on the island of Ireland.

Download report: Pizza - Takeaway food series (PDF, 5MB).