'Exercise Labels' On Food Packaging More Effective Than Calorie Counts

Exercise Labels On Fizzy Drinks Proposed

The Huffington Post UK   First Posted: 16/12/11 15:20 Updated: 19/12/11 10:24

Health experts are calling for junk food and fizzy drinks to have ‘exercise labels’ on their packaging to inform people how much physical exercise would need to be taken to burn off the sky-high calorie and fat content.

Researchers from Johns Hopkins University believe that printing a ‘physical activity equivalent’ on unhealthy drinks and snacks will reduce their popularity if the evidence is staring them in the face.

To prove this point, researchers posted three different signs outside corner shops to see which was best at deterring young people from drinking calorific fizzy drinks.

One sign asked if the consumer knew that the average can of fizzy pop contains 250 calories. The other asked if they knew that the drink is 10% of their recommended daily intake. The third revealed that a fizzy drink would take 50 minutes of running to counteract the soaring sugar and calorie content.

Researchers discovered that although the calorie information was effective (sales dropped by 40%), the physical activity equivalent was the most shocking to teens, as the drink sales dropped by 50%.

“People generally underestimate the number of calories in the foods and beverages they consume,” says Dr Sara Bleich from the study.

“Providing easily understandable caloric information-particularly in the form of a physical activity equivalent, such as running - may reduce calorie intake from sugar - sweetened beverages and increase water consumption among adolescents.

Because of the health problems associated with junk food, it is critical to explore the most effective strategies for presenting caloric information to consumers on fast food restaurant menu boards.”

If you’re shocked about the calorie content in sugary drinks, take a look at these other hidden fat traps lurking in your everyday food...

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  • Hidden Fat Traps Lurking In Your Food

  • Dried Fruits

    Dried fruits are a great tasting snack, but beware they are often sprayed with a sugar solution before being packaged.

  • Sushi

    Sushi can come packed with mayonnaise (or mayo based sauces) as well as other sauces full of hidden calories.

  • Fruit Smoothies

    Not all smoothies have potential fat traps - ones made entirely from wholefood ingredients and fresh fruit, are packed with nutrients and vitamins. However, don't be fooled into thinking that all smoothies make a healthy drink. Many processed smoothies are so full of added sugars, syrup, additives and full-fat milk (and sometimes ice cream), that you'd be better off having a large milkshake from your local takeaway.

  • Vegetable Crisps

    It may seem like the healthier alternative to a packet of salt and vinegar crisps, but veggie crisps have the same fat content as ordinary crisps.

  • Frozen Yoghurt

    Frozen yoghurt is usually low in calories - but the sugar content can be sky high.

  • Chicken Wraps

    A tortilla wrap may contain carbohydrate than a slice of bread, but most pre-packed wraps are packed full of hidden fat traps, such as processed meat, mayonnaise and butter.

  • Processed Cereal

    Many cereals contain a host of different sweeteners to make them more tasty, so make sure you check the sugar content before piling it into your breakfast bowl.

  • Low Fat Muffins

    Choosing a low-fat muffin over a full fut version may seem like a clever move, but in reality, the snack can contain more sugar. This means that not only could your 'healthier' muffin contain more calories, it may be less filling too.

  • Gluten-Free

    Gluten-free aren't necessarily more healthy. Many gluten-free foods are processed and packaged, meaning they still have the fat traps other foods have.

  • Rice Cakes

    Rice cakes can be a low calorie snack - as long as you stick to plain and don't pile on the toppings.