Measuring meals by exercise, not calories helps consumers eat healthy: study

TORONTO – Would you eat that cheeseburger, fries and drink for lunch if you knew how long it’d take for you to walk off the hefty number of calories in your meal?

A new study suggests that consumers would choose healthier options if menus and food labels displayed how long it’d take to burn off the calories with brisk walking.

Texas Christian University researchers even suggest this measure would be more effective in dissuading diners from unhealthy fare than simply displaying the number of calories on your plate.

“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,” they said in a statement.

Meanwhile, Toronto Public Health is asking the provincial government to create legislation that would force chain restaurants to post the calories and sodium values of the food they serve.

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This measure was enforced in most parts of the United States to try to help diners understand how much they’re eating.

Would these calories and exercise stats make you think twice about eating these meals? These exercise numbers are based on a 150-pound man.

Read more: Top 10: Some of the worst foods for your heart’s health

(File photo/Getty Images). File photo/Getty Images

A fast food chain bacon cheeseburger with medium fries and a coke isn’t a meal decision made in our finest hours – it clocks in at 1,210 calories, which would take 100 minutes of sweating it out on an elliptical trainer to burn off.

(Matt Cardy/Getty Images). Matt Cardy/Getty Images

Indulging in a caramel chocolate bar would set you back 240 calories and signs you up for 35 minutes of jogging.

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(Jennifer May/CP file photo)
(Jennifer May/CP file photo). Random House Canada-Jennifer May

Grabbing a drive-through bite with your morning coffee in the form of a breakfast sandwich with sausage, egg and cheese averages 530 calories. It would take 60 minutes of walking up flights of stairs to burn this off.

(Getty Images). Getty Images

Six inches of sliced beef, melted cheese and bread for lunch or dinner comes in at 570 calories – or 80 minutes of swimming laps.

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In the TCU study, researchers worked with 300 men and women between the ages of 18 and 30. The subjects were randomly assigned to menus without calorie labels, with calorie labels, or with the minutes of exercise needed to burn off their meal.

Burgers, chicken sandwiches, chicken tenders, salads, fries, desserts, soda and water were included on the menus.

The results showed that those who selected their meal off the menus that showed minutes of exercise were more likely to eat fewer calories than those without calorie labels. There was no difference between the menu with calorie labels and the menu without calorie labels, though.

Another study released earlier this month pointed to similar findings.

Published in the journal Appetite, researchers had 802 subjects look at menus that had no nutritional information, calories, calories and exercise minutes and calories with the distance of walking consumers would need to do.

Results showed that those who had the menu with calories and walking distance ordered the least food – about 826 calories.

On the other end, those without nutritional information on their menus at all ate about 1,020 calories.

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