The obesity crisis has become a huge epidemic across the globe. Now researchers say adding exercise advice on food labels could help tackle the issue.A news study suggests displaying symbols that suggest how much fitness is required to burn off the calories from an item could encourage people to lose weight. The study's findings were originally published in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health.
"We think there is a clear signal that it might be useful,” study author Professor Amanda Daley of Loughborough University told a news portal. Adding, “We are not saying get rid of current labelling, we’d say add this to it.”
Researchers say most people tend to spend no more than six seconds on reading a food label. This simple approach could make it easier for people to decide whether or not they want to purchase the product. "In that [time] we’ve got to have something that you can easily understand and make sense of without having to have a PhD in mathematics to work out what [eating] a quarter of a pizza actually means,” Daley told a news portal. Adding, "If I tell you something is going to take you 60 minutes of walking to burn, I think most people understand that and know that 60 minutes of walking is a long way."
For the study, the team examined data of more than 14 studies investigating how a labelling system based on exercise could have an impact on health. The team found exercise-based labels helped participants consume 65 fewer calories at each meal. They also found people chose to select 103 fewer calories when the exercise-based labels were present.
"People think that obesity is caused by gluttony. It isn’t. Obesity is caused by all of us eating just a little bit too much," Daley told a news portal.
While the study's findings prove fascinating, some health experts feel this system could make things a bit confusing for consumers and may not indicate just how "healthy" a product is.
"For example, calories labelled on a sandwich might come to around 400kcal whereas a chocolate confectionery bar might be 350kcal,” Dr Frankie Phillips, a registered dietitian and spokesperson for the British Dietetic Association, told a news portal. Adding "If calories are given central importance then the chocolate bar would appear to be a better choice, whereas a more balanced approach would obviously show that a sandwich is far superior nutritionally, despite being higher in calories."
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