Exercise Info Is More Effective Than Calorie Counts

Just as nutrition labels are getting glossed over, research indicates that consumers choose healthier options when shown the amount of exercise needed to work off food.

Instead of calorie counts, researchers say, unhealthy foods should have signs with the equivalent jogging time. For instance, a 20-ounce can of soda is roughly 50 minutes of jogging for a 110-pound teenager.

The study, which took place in West Baltimore, put up three types of signs: One with calorie counts, one with calorie counts as a percentage of recommended intake, and one with the amount of time needed to jog the calories off.

When the signs went up, soda, iced tea, and sports drink sales decreased; water and other non-sugary drinks were bought more often. It was the exercise signs, however, that made a much larger difference in sales.

But why jogging? Researchers said that since many people don't like jogging, consumers may be more averse to purchasing products that require a lot of jogging time. Sara Bleich, who led the study, plans to experiment with basketball and dancing as the activities next.

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