'Exercise Menu' Not Calorie Counts Could Prevent Us Eating Too Much At Restaurants

If burger-loving restaurant goers are told how much exercise it will take to burn off their quarter pounder, then they're more likely to skip a side portion of fries.

Well, that's according to researchers from Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, who have revealed that customers consume fewer calories if they are aware of the corresponding workout needed to shift those fatty mouthfuls.

In a study of 300 men and women aged 18-30, researchers found that participants who were given menus displaying the minutes of brisk walking they'd need to do in order to burn off their meal, ordered less food than their counterparts.

When diners were told how many hours of exercise are needed to burn off calories, they ordered less food

“This is the first study to look at the effects of displaying minutes of brisk walking needed to burn food calories on the calories ordered and consumed,” said senior researcher Dr Meena Shah, in a statement.

The study was eye-opening for many of the subjects, she added.

“For example, a female would have to walk briskly for approximately two hours to burn the calories in a quarter-pound double cheeseburger.”

“This study suggests there are benefits to displaying exercise minutes to a group of young men and women.”

American chain restaurants are now required to disclose the calorie content of each menu item. However, the study noted that calorie labels appeared to have no impact on the amount of fatty food ordered and consumed by participants.

Their findings echo previous studies that have also suggested that providing information on calorie content has little impact customers' behaviour.

:: The results were presented at the Experimental Biology 2013 meeting in Boston.