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New Menu Strategy Impacts Food Choice

Menus displaying the amount of exercise required to burn off calories in a meal had some impact on food choice, researchers found. Ashlei James, a graduate student at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, Texas, and colleagues report that when individuals are given menus with information about how much exercise was needed to burn the calories contained in each food choice, they not only ordered those foods with fewer calories, but they also consumed fewer calories. This was significantly different from their food choices and their calorie consumption when no such information was provided in the menus.

James also reports at the Experimental Biology 2013 meeting in Boston that a similar effect was observed when menus contained calorie counts. The study involved adults aged 18-30 years who were randomly divided to receive restaurant menus, which displayed three different types of menus. One group got menus that displayed no information on calorie content, another group displayed the number of calories contained in each food item, and the last group got menus that contained information about the amount of exercise (in terms of brisk walking) that would be needed to burn the calories.

Senior researcher Meena Shah, PhD states that many volunteers were surprised at the amount of exercise it would take to burn calories consumed from eating a favorite meals, such as a quarter-pound double cheeseburger. In this case, one would have to do two hours of brisk walking to burn the calories.

The investigators note that previous studies have shown that information on calorie content does not necessarily lead to fewer calories ordered or consumed. They believe that a more effective strategy such as matching the exercise duration required to burn calories with food items on a menu may be more effective.


Kaiser, C. How Much Exercise to Burn Off a Burger? MedPage Today.

Posted in: Exercise, Healthy Eating, News Briefs

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