Should nutrition labels show exercise information?

Health Hub staff
Monday, December 19, 2011
Would a '60-minute jog' nutritional label deter you?
Would a '60-minute jog' nutritional label deter you?
Displaying the amount of time it would take to burn a beverage off would be more easily understood than current calorie information, a new US study has found.

Researchers at Johns Hopkins's Bloomberg School of Public Health observed teenagers at stores, where signs displayed either calorie counts, calorie counts as a percent of recommended daily calorie intake, or the time spent jogging that would be needed to burn off a sugary beverage.

While all signs led the teenagers to purchase fewer drinks, researchers found that the conversion to exercise minutes was the most effective, the US' Live Science reported..

"In general, people are very bad at estimating the amount of calories in food they consume," said assistant professor of health policy and management, Sara Bleich.

"If we give them easy ways of examining it … I think we can be effective in reducing calories in purchases."

About 93 drinks a day were purchased in each store, which dipped slightly when the signs went up. Soft drink, iced tea and sports drink sales declined slightly and sales of non-sugary beverages, such as water doubled.

While all three types of signs appeared to reduce the number of sugary drinks sold, only the signs displaying exercise times had strong enough results to conclude it wasn't due to simple chance.

The study appears in the American Journal of Public Health.

Have your say: Would a '60-minute jog' nutritional label deter you?

User comments
I definitly agree that this would be very affective. I myself love to go for a 60min jog but to think id have to do it just to burn off a couple of sugary drinks then id feel like I wasn't achieving anything!
I find this idea a little ridiculus. Firstly, types of food effect individuals in different ways depending on a whole bunch of factors. Secondly, the metabolic rates of people, across a population, will vary widely. Thirdly, not all people are suited to the same kinds of exercise. And finally, we forget that our bodies use energy all the time, meaning that we don't need to "burn off" everything we eat and drink, with exercise. All these things mean that such labels on food and drink will probably be inaccurate, and misleading, in the majority of cases. That it deters people from buying unhealthy beverages is a good thing of course, but what kind of companies would agree to show such labels if they have a detrimental impact on sales? And no, the label would not deter me. I don't drink high-calorie drinks anyway. Ha.

Getty imagesArtificial sweeteners may cause diabetes Getty imagesSyphilis diagnoses hit all-time high Getty imagesBaby height and weight 'signals likelihood of mental health disorders' Tauranga cancer treatment centre to open

Ask our experts

Should I continue my affair with a married man? Our answer SEX & RELATIONSHIPS EXPERT Dr Gabrielle Morrissey

What's your BMI?


Body Mass Index Measure your BMI >>Find out if your body is in the healthy body mass index range. Calorie CounterCalorie CounterKeep track of your daily dietary intake. Burn BarometerBurn BarometerHow much exercise should you be doing?