‘Exercise Labels’ : What’s Your Thought on This Hot Topic?

By Emily Murray

Until recently, most of us have been known to lament how long it will take us to rid our bodies of the calories we have consumed after a heavenly desert or perhaps a holiday dinner. While sometimes these statements may be overly dramatic, other times  saying that a jog is needed to keep weight gain at bay isn’t really that much of a stress. How would you feel if you looked at a nutrition label only to be face to face with exactly how much exercise it will take the burn off the fat and calories from that food? While some call it a great idea others have met this possibility with a bit more skepticism.

To be clear here, it would be mainly junk food and soda carrying these labels. Normal “healthy foods” would not. Many may feel that by having these labels on everything (healthy or not) we may be leading more and more people to become a bit neurotic about everything they consume. However, when these labels are placed on unhealthy foods, it may be easier for us to understand the full nutritional impact when it is in a form we can more easily relate to rather than simply reading nutritional info off the side of a carton or can.

This idea has now been introduced as  a result of research from Johns Hopkins University. Based on their research , it is believed that by placing the “physical activity equivalent” on unhealthy food and drinks, the products labeled like this will begin to drop off in popularity and perhaps it will have a positive impact on reducing America’s ever growing obesity rate.

In order to back up their point with facts, these researchers began a study. As part of the study, three different signs were posted outside of shops to test which message could most effectively keep young people from indulging in unnecessary and unhealthy food and drink choices. One sign asked if they knew there were 250 calories in the average can of soda, another asked if they were aware that they were drinking 10 percent of their suggested calorie intake and the last said that the soda would take them 50 minutes of running in order to counteract the effects of the sugar and calories combined.

As a result, saying the information about the calories was in fact effective (dropping sales by 40 percent) but when pointing out the exercise equivalent to what they were about to ingest, the drink sales dropped a bit further coming in at about 50 percent less than normal.

These new findings about how people relate to health information may potentially forge the way toward developing a labeling system that is effective in deterring people from eating and drinking unhealthy things. While anyone trying to get the companies to willingly put this information on their products would likely be met with severe friction, perhaps in the future this method of displaying nutritional information will be put to the test on a larger scale.

What do you think? Is this a good idea? Would it help prevent people from making unhealthy choices?