Curbing Calorie Intake: Labels That Translate Calories Into Walking Distance

By | November 29, 2018

It appears labeling the calories is not influencing people to reduce their intake. A new study pushes the boundaries by literally translating the walking distance that is needed to burn off that Big Gulp.

The map infographics has already taken form as posters for New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s soda ban campaign. And the studies behind these effective maps are published in the March edition of the journal Appetite.

Researchers led by University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill gathered 802 participants in a web-survey and divided them into four menus: one labeled with no nutritional information, a menu with calories labeled, a menu with calories and how many minutes it would take to burn it off, and a fourth menu on the calories and how many miles it would take to burn off the calories.

Those who ordered from the menu with calories and walking distance would consume 826 calories versus the people who ordered 1,020 calories worth from a menu with no nutritional information.

The study was tested for a 160-pound adult. Currently more than a third of adults and nearly 17 percent of youth are considered obese in the United States.

However, some scientists find that caloric intake labels are still capable of overcoming the obesity epidemic on its own. And crowding the labels with walking distance would be ineffective.

“We don’t know what the full impact of menu labeling is, and we won’t know until it’s been in effect nationally for several years,” Margo Wootan, director of nutrition policy at the Center for Science in the Public Interest, told Scientific American.

“It’s a clever idea, but for most restaurants’ menus it probably wouldn’t be practical.”

Researchers are planning to test the menus in school cafeteria settings to see how it fares. Whether the caloric intake is almost a 200 calorie difference between the observed menu labels, NIH researchers published a study in The Lancet that found consuming 10 fewer calories per day would help an individual lose weight.

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