Should food labels include how much exercise is needed to burn off calories?

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WATCH: British researchers say food labels should be revamped, so that instead of calorie counts, labels should list calculations that details how long it takes to burn off calories. Kylie Stanton reports – Apr 8, 2016

Two slices of pizza clock in at 449 calories while a can of pop is another 138. Seeing these calorie counts probably doesn’t dissuade you from eating up, but what if you had to look at how long it’d take to burn off the junk food with exercise? (It’d be one hour and 49 minutes of walking and 56 minutes of running, by the way.)

British doctors out of the Royal Society for Public Health say current nutrition labels that list calories, fat and salt aren’t doing enough to help consumers. They say exercise – or activity equivalence – ought to be added to food packaging.

READ MORE: How to read nutrition labels

“The objective is to prompt people to be more mindful of the energy they consume and how these calories relate to activities in their everyday lives, and to encourage them to be more physically active,” Shirley Cramer, chief executive of the RSPH, said in a statement.

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It’d be as simple as listing how long it’d take to walk, run or swim off the food you’re eating. A can of pop has 138 calories and it’d take 26 minutes to walk off for someone who is of average age and weight.

“Given its simplicity, activity equivalent calorie labelling offers a recognizable reference that is accessible to everyone,” Cramer said.

Cramer said that right now, 44 per cent of the public finds food packaging information confusing. Fifty-three per cent said they’d prefer changes that would “positively” affect their behaviour and help them choose healthier options.

READ MORE: Making informed food decisions – Understanding ingredient lists

Critics have pointed to how this proposed change could affect people with eating disorders. In response, Cramer said health officials have “a responsibility to promote measures to tackle the biggest public health challenges facing our society, such as obesity.”

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