Your fries, measured in exercise

nutrition informationWhile a good idea in theory, restaurant menus that display the calories associated with food options don’t seem to curb diners’ eating habits or sway them into choosing more healthful fare. So researchers at Texas Christian University (TCU) decided to take the idea one step further: adding the amount of brisk walking the average person would have to do to burn off the calories in each item. In the TCU study, 300 men and women ages 18 to 30 were randomly assigned to one of three menu groups: one without calorie labels, one with calorie labels and one with labels that spelled out how many minutes of brisk walking were needed to burn off the calories. Food-wise, the menus options were the same. The results? Those in the group with menus listing the exercise equivalents ordered and consumed fewer calories than those in the group without calorie labels. The findings were presented at the Experimental Biology 2013 meeting in Boston.

The question remains: If you noticed that it would take about two hours to burn off a quarter-pound double cheeseburger, would you be more apt to order a salad instead?