Food Nannies: Menu labels should display amount of exercise needed to burn calories

“Calories-in = calories-out” is yet another food myth.

The media release is below.


Menu labels displaying amount of exercise needed to burn calories show benefits

Study looks at way to reduce calorie intake

Boston, MA—More restaurants are displaying calorie information on their menus than ever before. It’s not a coincidence; by law, retail food establishments that are part of a chain with twenty or more locations nationwide must disclose the calorie content of each menu item. The goal is to encourage consumers to make healthier, informed food choices. The majority of studies, however, show that providing information on calorie content does not lead to fewer calories ordered or consumed. A new angle for encouraging reduced calorie intake in these establishments would be welcome by many in the nutrition field. One currently being explored is displaying on the menu the minutes of exercise–brisk walking in this case–needed to burn food calories.

“We need a more effective strategy to encourage people to order and consume fewer calories from restaurant menus,” said Dr. Meena Shah, Texas Christian University (TCU). “Brisk walking is something nearly everyone can relate to, which is why we displayed on the menu the minutes of brisk walking needed to burn food calories,” said Ashlei James, TCU.

Shah, the senior researcher, and James, the lead researcher and graduate student, recently conducted a study of 300 men and women ages 18-30. “The group was randomly assigned to a menu without calorie labels, a menu with calorie labels, or a menu with labels for the minutes of brisk walking needed to burn the food calories,” James said. “All menus contained the same food and beverage options, which included burgers, chicken sandwiches/tenders, salad, fries, desserts, soda, and water.”

The results indicate that the menu displaying the minutes of brisk walking needed to burn food calories led to fewer calories ordered and consumed compared with the menu without calorie labels. Of note, there was no difference between the menu with calorie labels and the menu without calorie labels in the number of calories ordered and consumed by the subjects.

“This study suggests there are benefits to displaying exercise minutes to a group of young men and women. We can’t generalize to a population over age 30, so we will further investigate this in an older and more diverse group,” Shah said. “This is the first study to look at the effects of displaying minutes of brisk walking needed to burn food calories on the calories ordered and consumed.”

The study was eye-opening for many of the subjects. “For example, a female would have to walk briskly for approximately 2 hours to burn the calories in a quarter-pound double cheeseburger,” said Shah.

Results from this study will be presented orally on April 23 at the Experimental Biology 2013 meeting in Boston.


9 thoughts on “Food Nannies: Menu labels should display amount of exercise needed to burn calories”

  1. There are many Taubes critics on duh net. I have posted a couple before. Here’s another:

    My big problem with Taubes is he recommends long term carbohydrate starvation. Carbohydrate starvation creates protein starvation. With no carbs available for energy, the body metabolizes protein for energy. It is no longer available for cell creation/maintenance. Low carb/Atkins diet is safe and effective for a few weeks. The medical community recommends against it long term. Reports of dramatic weight loss, like 57 pounds, do not recognize that some of that weight loss is from their heart, lungs, liver, etc.

  2. Since Gamecock brought up “no fat people in concentration camps”,, let me explain why. Clifford Irving, the holocaust denier, made a compelling argument during his trial by noting that aerial photographs of the camps showed an insufficient supply of coal for the number of claimed cremations. The error in Irving’s argument was in using the amount of coal for an individual cremation to be needed for each of the cremations at the camp. The grisly truth is that the body fat from one body would provide fuel for the next body. When Dr. Mengele separated out newcomers to the camps he was using his observation of body fat to separate those so skinny as to clog up the cremation process..

  3. True, there were no fat people in concentation camps, but once they were released, most of them did become obese. The starvation altered their metabolism and as soon as they were able eat again their body began storing fat for any future starvation. This is the danger of 1,000 calorie diets for weight loss. Better to eat a sensible diet and increase activity to burn off excess calories and fat.

  4. I agree with Dr. Novella:

    I do not believe ‘“Calories-in = calories-out” is yet another food myth.’

    Unfortunately, it’s not something we can gainfully argue. For every thousand posts like Dr. Novella’s, I can find another thousand that agree that it is a myth.

    I can say, as a fitness guru for 25 years, my observation is that “Calories-in = calories-out” is correct. I can also say there were no fat people in concentration camps.

    Damn. I’m arguing after saying we can’t argue. I could be a journalist, or even a SENATOR!

  5. > “Calories-in = calories-out” is yet another food myth.

    Less of a myth when one is starving. It’s just that nobody gets to starve anymore.

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