Study suggests benefits in including amount of exercise to burn calories in restaurant menus

          In our previous post, we shared that Starbucks have already started stating the corresponding calories of their drinks in all their branches in the US. This is even before the Food and Drug Administration have completed the implementing rules and regulations which would force all restaurants with more than 20 locations in the US to include the calorie information alongside their menu. This move hopes to address the increasing rate of obesity in the country.

         This week we’ll focus on another study that suggests that aside from the calorie information, menus should also include the amount of exercise one needs to burn that much calories. In a study conducted by researchers in Texas Christian University, they found out that people who were given this additional information tend to consume lesser calories than those who did not.

        The researchers believe this is because knowing that to burn the calories in a slice of large pizza would require running for 30 minutes or walking for 60 minutes paints a clearer picture of its nutrients compared to just saying the amount of calories on it.

           Dr. Meena Shah and Ashlei James gathered 300 participants aged 18 to 30 years old and divided them into three groups. The first experimental group received a menu without calorie count while the second group was provided with the calorie information. The third group was provided with a menu containing both the calorie count and the amount of exercise required, often just brisk walking, to burn those calories. The researchers chose brisk walking as they believed that this is something everyone can do.

        They found out that the third group consumed less than 100 calories on average as compared with the second group. Dr. Shah stated that the study was the first to ever explore the possibility of getting benefits from such disclosure of info. The study suggests that there are indeed benefits which are left untapped.  

         With these developments, they are now planning on a larger trial size that will hopefully stress the point further.  Since the study only included people not over 30 years old, the researchers can’t speak for elder people at least at this time. They intend to follow up the research though with studies that target different age brackets and demographics. For the meantime, the team will present their findings in the Experimental Biology Convention 2013 in Boston.

          Personally, I think including the approximate amount of exercise a person needs to burn restaurant calories is a clever idea that can further encourage healthy eating and living. I know that calories is not the ultimate measure of a meal’s nutrition but it’s a nice baby step towards the ultimate goal. Most people know that a meal with a huge amount of calories is bad but most of them fail to realize how exactly ‘bad’ are those dishes. With menus including the amount of exercise necessary to burn calories, I hope people will now think twice before they upsize their burger and their fries. 

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