If you knew how many miles you’d have to walk to burn off a Big Mac, would you still eat it?
Researchers at the University of North Carolina recently attempted to find out, asking three groups of 20 test subjects to order food off menus that included, respectively, traditional calorie counts, no caloric information whatsoever, or the amount of walking needed to burn off the selected food item.
The result: When presented with the walking mileage, people chose lower-calorie items. In fact, they consumed an average of 2oo fewer calories.
“The point of the labels is to contextualize caloric information in a way that people can understand and use better in their daily lives,” said Dr. Jonas Swartz, one of the authors of the study and one of the minds behind the new design. “Our goal is to help people make healthier food choices.
“Many people really don’t have an idea what calories are, and we found from the companion study that people didn’t know what their daily caloric needs were. They were confused by calorie information and other nutrition labeling.” Rather than have completely accurate labels in terms of the amount of physical activity needed to burn off food, the purpose was to show consumers the differences among food items on a menu.
Much research still needs to be done; however, it is a new idea with a lot of potential. The North Carolina study is not meant to change nutrition labels but to stimulate the thought processes of those who can change them. Showing consumers an alternate way to understand calories makes it easier for them to choose healthier foods.
The way people make food choices could change if they knew the equivalent of walking it off. Learn how much exercise is required to burn off calories from some of the most common guilty-pleasure foods through this infographic.