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I recently came across a very interesting study where a group of researchers from Texas Christian University set up three different labels next to a fast food menu. “One group’s menu had no labels of any kind. The second group’s menu was labeled with the total calories in each item. The third group’s menu was labeled with the number of minutes of brisk walking it would take someone to burn off the calories in the meal.”

The study consisted of a total of 300 men and women age 18-30 years old. They divided up the participants into three groups. Each group was assigned to one type of the labeling (or no labeling) mentioned above. They all had the same options such as burgers, chicken tenders, french fries, and salads.

I expected to see pretty drastic results. In my opinion, when I see the calories noted on a menu, it plays into my decision making. Furthermore, if I were to see how many steps I would have to take to burn off that meal, my decision making would also be affected. While the study did show similar results, they were not as dramatic as I would have thought.

The activity-labeled menu study group ordered 139 fewer calories and consumed 97 fewer calories on average compared to those who ordered off of the menus with calorie labeling and those without any labels. Between these other two labeling groups, there was no significant difference between the amount of calories ordered.

This study was a good reminder to always be aware of what you are eating. While the results were not very large, smaller caloric reductions such as these could make the difference.

Here is the article: http://thechart.blogs.cnn.com/2013/04/23/would-you-like-2-hours-of-exercise-with-that/

3 Responses to “CNN: “Would you like 2 hours of exercise with that?””

  1. corriegoldberg says:

    I find this study very interesting because, being A New York native, I have experienced what it is like to eat at restaurants with the calories of every dish on the menu. In order to combat the obesity epidemic, the Bloomberg administration enforced a rule in New York that forced chain restaurants to provide the calorie intake of their dishes on the menu. However, I never thought about what the effect of putting something such as how many many minutes of brisk walking it would take to burn off the dish, instead of calories, would have. Especially because I encounter these menus with calories in New York City, where I do a considerable amount of walking, I think it would be much more beneficial to see the minutes of walking it would take instead of the calories. Seeing this would make it easier to put into perspective how unhealthy a dish is, rather than seeing a mathematically computed number that is abstract enough with me to begin.

  2. melzakin says:

    I too would have expected quite dramatic results, as having the caloric and fat content of foods visible plays a big role in what I choose to eat in the dining halls and any restaurants who participate in such labeling. After reading Corrie’s response, I was curious if the New York Initiative has resulted in any change in food ordering decisions. According to the following article in The Economist (http://www.economist.com/blogs/babbage/2011/07/menu-labelling), there really hasn’t been much of a difference in people’s food decisions. The results of a study of New York fast food joints found results similar to those stated above. There were some instances of purchasing less-caloric foods, but for the most part, having calorie counts listed next to foods did not influence a consumer’s decision. This is a truly surprising, and perhaps troubling, result. If consumers did modify their food choices, then maybe fast food companies would be forced to make their food healthier.

  3. jlvan says:

    It’s also interesting to this about how even with calorie labeling in the dining halls, more information doesn’t necessarily make a difference. I was interested in looking further into the effects of eating out and I was lead to find that it’s especially difficult/more prevalent that younger people have a higher calorie intake away from home. (http://www.ers.usda.gov/amber-waves/2011-march/choosing-healthy-foods.aspx#.U1V6Kye9KSM) While this doesn’t surprise me, im interested in what a study might look like if U of M surveyed their students to find out the change in calorie intake from freshman to sophomore year (even WITH dining hall calorie labeling).

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