Friday, January 30, 2015

Fast Foods that List the Amount of Exercise Needed to Burn Off the Calories: A Strategy for Healthier Eating?

By: Lewis First, MD, MS; Editor-in-Chief 

    More and more we find foods in restaurants and especially fast food restaurants listing the calories for the various items we wish to order. But what if the listing also included how much exercise is needed to burn off those calories?  Would it make a parent order even healthier options for their child? 
     Drs. Viera and Antonelli (doi: 10.1542/peds.2014-2902) conducted an intriguing national survey of 1000 parents who were randomized to receive one of four theoretical fast food menus that included a menu group with (1) no labels, (2) only calories, (3) calories plus minutes of exercise to burn off those calories and (4) calories plus miles needed to walk to burn off the calories.  
      Knowing the information on the menu, parents were then asked to order for their child as well as comment on whether putting nutritional as well as exercise information on the posted food item would promote their child to exercise more?The results do show caloric and exercise labels do make a difference—but as to which type of label works best, they all are better than just listing the food without labels but substantive differences of one type of label versus another do not seem to show statistically significant differences.  
      As to how many parents felt the label would help them promote exercise in their children, you’ll have to exercise your eyes and read the full study to glean the take-home lessons learned from this fast-food study and then digest the findings with your patients.

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