Study shows 'exercise labels' help lower consumption of unhealthy foods
Posted by John Kalkowski -- Packaging Digest, 12/18/2011 9:11:05 PM
Health experts are calling for junk food and fizzy drinks to have ‘exercise labels' on their packaging to inform people how much physical exercise would need to be taken to burn off the sky-high calorie and fat content.
Researchers from Johns Hopkins University believe that printing a ‘physical activity equivalent' on unhealthy drinks and snacks will reduce their popularity if the evidence is staring them in the face. To prove this point, researchers posted three different signs outside corner shops to see which was best at deterring young people from drinking calorific fizzy drinks. One sign asked if the consumer knew that the average can of fizzy pop contains 250 calories. The other asked if they knew that the drink is 10 percent of their recommended daily intake. The third revealed that a fizzy drink would take 50 minutes of running to counteract the soaring sugar and calorie content.
Researchers discovered that although the calorie information was effective (sales dropped by 40 percent), the physical activity equivalent was the most shocking to teens, as the drink sales dropped by 50 percent.
"People generally underestimate the number of calories in the foods and beverages they consume," says Dr. Sara Bleich from the study. "Providing easily understandable caloric information-particularly in the form of a physical activity equivalent, such as running - may reduce calorie intake from sugar - sweetened beverages and increase water consumption among adolescents.
Because of the health problems associated with junk food, it is critical to explore the most effective strategies for presenting caloric information to consumers on fast food restaurant menu boards.