How often do you read food packaging labels? If you take an occasional glance when you pick up a jar of food, do you really think about what all of those numbers mean? If you’re just like the majority of Australians, you probably don’t take much notice of it at all. But what if these numbers and chemical compounds were broken down into something more tangible? Something you could understand and something that is sure to set you on a guilt trip? Would you keep eating?
Researchers from the John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore found that when people are presented with information on the amount of exercise that is required to “burn off” the calories they are more likely to choose smaller sizes or leave the product alone completely.
According to findings in the American Journal of Public Health, more and more people are ignoring the true caloric and nutritional information on food packaging, encouraging them to make unhealthy decisions.
The belief is that if a menu tells you a double cheeseburger will take a 5 kilometre run before the calories are burned off, you are more likely to choose an option that requires less exercise to burn it off. It sounds good in theory, but would it work for you?
According to the Daily Mail, study leader Professor Sara Bleich said, “People don’t really understand what it means to say a typical soda has 250 calories. If you’re going to give people calorie information, there’s probably a better way to do it. What our research found is that when you explain calories in an easily understandable way such as how many miles of walking needed to burn them off, you can encourage behaviour change”.
Unless you have an active interest in nutrition and an understanding of what your daily caloric intake should be, you probably don’t know what you are eating.
We thought we’d run some common every day foods through the FitnessPal app and see how long it would take an average weight adult to work off each one.
One boiled egg = 80 calories or 20 minutes of walking at a moderate pace
An average blueberry muffin = 380 calories or one and a half hours of walking at a moderate pace
One cup of dried fruit mix = 440 calories or one hour and 50 minutes of walking at a moderate pace
One can of regular coke = 191 calories or 48 minutes of walking at a moderate pace
One cup of regular cornflakes = 100 calories or 25 minutes of walking at a moderate pace
One apple = 65 calories or 16 minutes of walking at a moderate pace
One McDonalds cheeseburger = 282 calories or one hour and ten minutes of walking at a moderate pace
Mango and macadamia Weis bar = 111 calories or 28 minutes of walking at a moderate pace
One Tim Tam = 95 calories or 24 minutes of walking at a moderate pace
Some of these seem reasonable when we first look at them, but the scary thing lies in the fact that we very rarely eat these foods on their own without other things. For example, a cheeseburger is accompanied with chips and a high sugar drink, and no one can stop at only one Tim Tam….if you can, you’re not human!
So as you can see, we’re putting a whole lot of nasty stuff into our bodies without fully realising just how bad this is for us.
After taking a look at these figures and the real implications they have in our food-exercise trade off, would seeing this regularly help you to make healthier choices?
Should all food have exercise trade offs for an average adult printed on the packaging rather than caloric and nutritional value? In our country with rising obesity rates, will this help to solve a big problem? Share your thoughts in the comments below…