How Much Exercise Will It Take to Work Off a Burger? Menus May Soon Tell You

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Jamie Grill / Getty Images

More restaurants display calorie counts on their menus, but what if they also informed you what it would take to burn off those calories?

It’s one thing to know how many calories are packed into a meal you’re about to eat, and quite another to fully appreciate what your body does with them. That’s been clear since cities like New York mandated calorie counts on fast food and restaurant menus so consumers would have a better idea of what they were eating. Despite the added information, studies haven’t shown that the counts led people to eat less. In fact, some surveys found they prompted people to order more food. So caloric information, it seems, doesn’t  have much impact on eating behavior.

Better strategies are clearly needed, so researchers Dr. Meena Shah and Ashlei James from Texas Christian University tried another approach — replacing the calorie counts with the number of minutes of brisk walking a person would need to complete to burn off what they just ate.

(MORE: Do Calorie Counts on Menus Curb Eating? Not So Much)

The researchers chose brisk walking since it’s a physical activity most people can do, and can easily fit into their day, as opposed to running or jogging. “We did the study specifically in younger adults. The reason why we chose young adults is because they exercise more than older adults and we felt that they would relate to it more than older adults,” says Shah.

The scientists recruited 300 men and women ages 18 to 30 and randomly assigned them to order lunch from one of three menus: one that was calorie-free, one that included calorie counts and another labeled with the minutes of walking needed to burn the calories in the food. All the menus had the same food offerings, including burgers, chicken sandwiches, chicken tenders, salad, fries, desserts, soda and water.

The participants who were provided the walking information ordered and consumed fewer calories compared to those who ordered off the menu without calorie labels. However, as with some previous studies, there was no difference in the calories consumed between those who ordered off the menu with calorie count labels and those who were not provided with calorie information.

(MORE: Are Calorie Counts on Menus Accurate? Not So Much)

The findings suggest that putting caloric information in context may help consumers to better appreciate how much they are eating. And while the study focused on participants under age 30, the researchers say the results could have implications for changing eating habits for all adults. “It could take anywhere from one to two hours of moderate exercise such as brisk walking to burn the calories in some of the energy-dense foods. This may then help them make more appropriate food choices,” says Shah. The more information people have, he says, the more informed their food choices might be; there’s nothing like the prospect of more exercise to help fight the urge to eat.

The research was presented at the Experimental Biology 2013 meeting in Boston.

11 comments
mkb
mkb

Energy can not be created or destroyed it changes one form to the other is the basic Physics principle. Energy consumed by the body needs to be utilized other wise it stores and makes a viscous cycle of  Disease cycle. Exercise are the only way to spend the excess food that si consumed by the body. Hitting gym is the right way to maintain Health.

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JamieCatherine
JamieCatherine

Seacow and JaimieWinkler are absolutely correct.  Linking calorie consumption directly to exercise is completely misguided, and invites eating disorders.  Our bodies REQUIRE calories for energy (calories, not caffeine, are the true source of energy for our bodies) even if we don't take a single step all day.  This approach treats food as the enemy, something to be carefully restricted and immediately "exercised off."  This is dangerous; if we work off all the calories we consume, our bodies will start drawing on fat and muscle stores to function normally, leading to serious health problems and muscle wasting.

In trying to solve the obesity epidemic, we must be careful not to feed our country's hidden epidemic of increasingly young boys and girls developing disordered thoughts about eating, running the gamut from flirting with diets to full blown eating disorders.  Measures like this will certainly do just that.

Seacow
Seacow like.author.displayName 1 Like

JaimieWinkler hit the nail on its head, "First of all - the calories you eat to meet your basic needs are not about exercise. So telling someone they need to walk off 300 calories when they haven't yet met their basic needs is wrong."

I can see many people misinterpreting those statistics due to the way they're presented. It sounds like energy from food, obviously an essential part of even existing, is a negative thing that needs to be "walked off".

@mkb"You will be wondering that you will be spending just 60 K calories to walk one kilometer, can you imagine each kilogram of fat has 9000 kilo calories  one needs to walk 150 kilometers to shed one KG of fat."

This is assuming you are meeting your energy needs. Fat loss is mainly about diet, not exercising (though it helps by raising your caloric needs).

mkb
mkb

Eating is an important voluntary event in any Humans life, Modern day eating is a problem of plenty but Humans have evolved from Problem of Paucity. Human body is wired from the past and body is designed to store energy for future use. Body converts excess food into fats. Once any food is consumed into the blood energy changes forms any energy that is not used is converted into fat. 

This is where problem of plenty comes we have to be careful while eating but it is a real challenge to balance in put and out put daily. One has to balance daily otherwise it will be a gorungutan problem.

Spending energy is a multidimensional issue. Human body is highly energy efficient it spends energy effectively. it always wants to make life easy at times of paucity of food.

You will be wondering that you will be spending just 60 K calories to walk one kilometer, can you imagine each kilogram of fat has 9000 kilo calories  one needs to walk 150 kilometers to shed one KG of fat.


svnagappa
svnagappa

There is already plenty of information on all foods. But westerners eat like as if there is no tomorrow left. For eg what they serve as kids size in the US is not only enough for me an adult but usually there is a left over. In the US generally I need to ask them to sever me half of what is served and yet pay the whole size. I have kids eat the entire adult plates. So how can anyone be healthy?

JaimieWinkler
JaimieWinkler like.author.displayName 1 Like

Absolutely inappropriate. First of all - the calories you eat to meet your basic needs are not about exercise. So telling someone they need to walk off 300 calories when they haven't yet met their basic needs is wrong. If you want to facilitate people making better choices then put the appropriate amounts of food on the menu cooked in the appropriate ways. Posting calorie information only makes the obsessed more obsessed and doesn't impact those who aren't interested. Stop fueling our nation's eating disorder and start making changes at the sources - both to benefit the consumer, environment, and public health. Start addressing those who wave delicious and nutrient-poor foods under the noses of people - at super low prices - then criticize and admonish people when they choose those foods. It's a disgusting cycle and I am sick of it.

hunter.curt
hunter.curt like.author.displayName 1 Like

I hope this does not happen. Show calories Carbs(g), Fat (g), Protein (g), and Calories (g) by request. But this is ridiculous. I am a CrossFitter and exercis every day. When I go out to a restaurant I am basically announcing "tonight I am eating for joy, not for fuel". Not to mention the number of people that may be in a restaurant with an eating disorder (recovering or otherwise) who are now going to have this possible trigger thrown out them just for going to a dinner with their family. This idea is destructive, not constructive. Find another way.


tylercarruth
tylercarruth

App created during Cajun code fest in Lafayette, LA in 2012. Www.calor8.com. Crude but basic idea.

tylercarruth
tylercarruth

App created during Cajun code fest in Lafayette, LA in 2012. Www.calor8.com. Crude but basic idea.

HF75
HF75

Maybe they should instead indicate the level of salt, sugar and fat content in terms of tea spoons instead. It might wake up some minds...

thewholetruth
thewholetruth like.author.displayName 1 Like

I am almost 80 and thank God in perfect health so far, What is funny is that the younger people are developing diseases like heart disease, cancers and dementia earlier.


I spoke with a 16 year old who regularly drinks Red Bull, she replied she needs "energy",well at 16 her energy should naturally incredible. 

The generation today is raised on processed foods, in my generation it was a very simple menu, today you need a chemistry degree to know what you are eating.

The food makers have becoming rich and the people are addicted to the food drugs like High fructose Corn syrup. 

I feel sorry for the young people today, Steroids in the Beef, Hormones n the chicken, Growth Hormones in the Milk a

The FDA has been a silent partner as the food makers poison the people and make billions. 

Fake sugar like HFSC is a billion dollar set up to get you addicted and obesity See herehttp://micky44.newsvine.com/_news/2013/04/09/17670941-i-am-sugar-addicted-how-they-hook-you