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Wednesday, November 13, 2013


Nutrition labeling has been required on packaged food since 1990, and the new federal food safety law will require calorie counts to be posted for restaurant food — all in an effort to get the American public to eat healthier.
But most studies on calorie count labels show they don't do much to nudge people toward better food choices. If I want that oh-so-delicious Chunky Monkey ice cream, knowing that a half-cup serving 300 calories and 18 grams of fat isn't going to stop me. But what if I knew that it would take me an hour and 20 minutes of brisk walking to burn off those Chunky Monkey calories? Would I think twice?
Probably, says Ashlei James, a graduate student at Texas Christian University. Researchers found out that subjects who were offered a menu that showed the number of minutes of brisk walking it would take to burn off the calories consumed from the food were more likely to choose healthier options than those who were given menus with or without calorie counts.
"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," said Ashlei James in a press release.

The researchers asked 300 men and women between the ages of 18 to 30 to look at a menu with either calorie labels, a menu without calorie labels or a menu that listed the amount of minutes of brisk walking it would take to negate the calories consumed if a person ate that option. For example, a woman would have to walk for two hours to get rid of the calories in a quarter-pound double cheeseburger. All the menus had the same food options, which included burgers, chicken sandwiches or tenders, salad, fries, desserts, soda and water. There was no difference observed in ordering choices between the group that had menus with calorie labels and those that saw a menu without them. However, the exercise menu group ordered foods that contained 100 fewer calories on average.
Dr Meena Shah, who led the study, said the study showed a need for a more effective strategy to encourage people to order and consume fewer calories from restaurant menus.
She added: "This study suggests there are benefits to displaying exercise minutes to a group of young men and women".

Another study published in the journal Appetite (http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article), pointed to similar findings.
Anthony Viera and his colleagues of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine conducted an online survey of 802 individuals randomly presented with one of four hypothetical menus. One of the menus provided only calorie counts, another supplemented this with information about the number of minutes one would need to walk to burn those calories whereas the third menu showed calorie numbers plus the distance necessary to walk them off. The fourth menu had no nutritional data whatsoever. All of the physical activity labeling for walking was based on the energy expenditure of a 160-pound adult walking at a rate of 30 minutes per mile, so aregular burger was, for example, listed as containing 250 calories, the equivalent amount burned in 2.6 miles, or 78 minutes of walking.
People who viewed the menu without nutritional information ordered a meal totaling 1,020 calories, on average, significantly more than the average 826 calories ordered by those who viewed menus that included information about walking-distance. Study participants ordered meals adding up to averages of 927 calories and 916 calories from menus with only calorie information or calorie information plus minutes walking, respectively, although the differences between these two totals were not statistically significant.A difference of 200 or even 100 calories might not seem large but a 2011 study from researchers that included scientists at the National Institutes of Health calculated that eating just 10 fewer calories a day would make a person shed a pound of weight over three years.

The test menu shows calorie information next to food items
and the number of miles or minutes a 160-pound person
would have to walk to use up the calories.
According to the USDA’s 2010 dietary guidelines, the average adult male who is moderately active should consume 2200-2800 calories each day, depending on age. The average adult female who is moderately active should consume 1800-2000 calories each day, depending on age. Most Americans consume far more calories than the recommended amount.
So, how many calories do you burn with brisk walking? According to the Mayo Clinic, a 160-pound person who walks 3.5 miles in an hour will burn about 314 calories. Below a table by healthgram shows how long that person would have to exercise to burn the calories in the following popular restaurant foods.

In the meantime those curious about physical activity equivalents of the food they eat can chew on this: the recent publication Convert Anything to Calories reportedly states that you can burn off the calories in one Big Mac with 350,000 clicks of a computer mouse.

Minutes of Brisk Walking to Burn Calories
Applebee's Sizzling Skillet Fajitas - Chicken
Arby's French Dip & Swiss Sandwich
Ben & Jerry's Vanilla Ice Cream (1/2 cup)
Brixx Wood Fired Pizza Buffalo Chicken Pizza
Burger King Chicken BLT Garden Fresh Salad
Cheesecake Factory Original Cheesecake
Chick-fil-A Chicken Sandwich
Hooters Chicken Wings (5 piece)
International House of Pancakes Country Omelet
McAlister's Chicken Tortilla Soup (in bread bowl)
McDonald's Cheeseburger
Morton's Steakhouse Chicago Style Bone-In Ribeye Steak
Olive Garden Fettuccine Alfredo (dinner portion)
P.F. Chang's Chicken Lettuce Wraps (1/4 order)
Starbucks Mocha Frappuccino (grande)
Subway Meatball Marinara Sub (6 inch)
Taco Bell Nachos BellGrande
Wendy's Natural-Cut French Fries (small)