Here’s a novel idea to help people trim down their calorie intake: Tell them how many miles they’ll have to run to burn off that chocolate bar or slice of pizza.
A review of 15 studies published in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health revealed that people ordered meals differently when foods were labeled with PACE (physical activity calorie equivalent) information. In fact, they chose meals with nearly 65 fewer calories and ate up to 100 fewer calories when PACE labels and menus were used, as opposed to other labels or no labels at all.
In other words, adorning food and drink packages and menu boards with the amount and type of exercise needed to burn off the calories might be an effective way of nudging people to make “healthier” dietary choices that, over time, could spur weight loss.
For instance, people might think twice about polishing off a bag of cheese puffs if they could see it would require 40 minutes of sweating on the treadmill to torch those calories.
It’s not yet clear how effective these labels would be outside of the laboratory, in real-life scenarios like restaurants, gas stations and grocery stores. Plus, nutritionists will be quick to point out that a calorie count doesn’t paint a full picture of the nutritional value of a food or drink. For example, 100 calories of fruit provides much more in the way of nutrients than 100 calories of cookies. Still, it shows in a very real way that you can’t always outrun a bad diet.
*These are approximate values based on a 150-pound individual working at a moderate pace.