Researchers found people consumed fewer calories when given menus labeled with the amount of exercise it would take to burn off the meal.
Are you willing to pay for that hamburger in exercise?
Many people are not, according to a study that used menus labeled not just with calorie counts, but also with how much exercise it would take to burn off those calories.
Researchers said in a press release that menus displaying the exercise cost of foods were more effective than unlabeled menus or ones showing calorie counts for encouraging people to make better food choices.
More and more restaurants are being forced by law to display calorie counts on their menus. But the move seems to be doing little to curb obesity and bad eating habits.
Menu lists amount of exercise needed to burn off calories, curbs overeating
The researchers took a different approach, hoping that displaying the amount of brisk walking needed to burn off the meal would encourage healthier habits.
"We need a more effective strategy to encourage people to order and consume fewer calories from restaurant menus," Meena Shah of Texas Christian University said.
The menus included some sobering figures, such as the news that it would take a female two hours of brisk walking to burn off the calories in a quarter-pound double cheeseburger.
"Brisk walking is something nearly everyone can relate to, which is why we displayed on the menu the minutes of brisk walking needed to burn food calories," Ashlei James, also of TCU, said.
The researchers studied 300 men and women ages 18 to 30 who were randomly assigned menus with no calorie labels, calorie labels or exercise labels. All the menus had the same food options, including burgers, chicken tenders, salad, desserts, soda and water.
The researchers found that those with the exercise-labeled menus ordered and consumed fewer calories than the group with calorie labels.
There was no difference between the groups with the unlabeled menu and the calorie-labeled menu.
Shah said this was the first study to look at such an approach to curbing overeating, and more studies need to be done for groups older than 30.
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