Is this what your favorite snacks will look like in the future? Obesity experts want to ditch traffic light labels in favor of calorie-burning equivalents that tell you to walk for 15 minutes to burn off a bar of chocolate.
- Experts want snack labels to indicate how much exercise you’ll need to burn them off
- A bar of chocolate could be seen slapped with a warning to go jogging for 20 minutes
- Traffic light labels are confusing and make it easy to overeat, they say
- The results are based on a survey conducted by British experts of more than 2,500 consumers
Junk food labels should tell shoppers how much exercise is needed to prevent cakes, biscuits and chips from making them fat, experts say.
A 200-calorie item would be slapped with the warning that it would take a 30-minute walk to burn off.
Obesity experts say the information would be much simpler to understand than the current traffic light stickers.
Therefore, they believe it would be more likely to discourage people from buying foods that are bad for their waistlines.
Researchers at Loughborough University tested the concept, known as physical activity calorie equivalent or PACE, in 2,668 consumers.
People generally preferred the existing red, yellow and green labels that warn if an item is high in salt, sugar or fat.
The food warning label of the future? Scientists want to tell consumers how much exercise they’ll need to burn off the calories from their favorite snacks
In the UK, this would replace the familiar traffic light system warning Britons of foods containing higher amounts of fat, sugar and salt.
Obesity should be considered a brain disorder like autism or ADHD, doctors say
Obesity should be classified as a disorder of brain development, doctors say.
This would put it in the same class as autism, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and Asperger’s.
They made the recommendation after a study indicated that obesity was partly caused by changes in the brain during childhood.
Obesity is now considered a behavioral disease: a pattern of destructive choices people make that harm their health.
But Dr Harry MacKay, of Baylor College of Medicine in Texas, said rethinking this could be “the key to stopping the global obesity epidemic”.
A total of 43% said the traffic light system was better, compared to 27% who opted for PACE.
However, they admitted that PACE was easier to understand and more attention-grabbing.
Almost half (49%) said PACE got their attention more, compared to just 39% of the traffic light system.
And 41% found PACE to be an easier way to understand calories, compared to just 27% for red, amber and green warnings.
Lead researcher Professor Amanda Daley, an expert in behavioral medicine, said: “Nutrition labels help people make food choices and traffic light labeling is the UK standard.
“However, many people do not understand the meaning of kilocalories or grams of fat shown on food labels.”
As a result, “they often underestimate the number of calories when labeling is not provided,” he added.
PACE is already used in some apps like MyFoodDiary and myfitnesspal to turn meals into the exercises needed to burn them.
People asked in the survey said they would prefer the labeling system if it only labeled snacks and junk food like chocolate and cakes rather than staples like pasta, bread or vegetables.
The authors said: “Our findings highlight that PACE labeling is a potentially important policy-based approach to strengthening current approaches to food labelling.
“The next steps are to test whether PACE labeling reduces purchases of high-calorie foods and beverages in different food settings, such as restaurants, vending machines, coffee shops and pubs.”
The results of the survey will be presented at the International Congress on Obesity in Melbourne, which will be held from 18 to 22 October.
Excess body weight is considered one of the UK’s biggest and fastest growing health problems, with the latest figures showing that 64% of adults are overweight and more of us are expected to gain weight in the future.
Obesity is not only expanding Britain’s waistline, but also healthcare costs, with an estimated £6.1 billion spent on treating weight-related diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and some cancers between 2014 and 2015.
America is facing a growing obesity epidemic, with an estimated 73.6% of adults considering themselves overweight or obese.
HOW SHOULD A BALANCED DIET BE?
Meals should be based on potatoes, bread, rice, pasta or other starchy carbohydrates, ideally wholegrain, according to the NHS
• Eat at least 5 servings of a variety of fruits and vegetables each day. All fresh, frozen, dried and canned fruits and vegetables count
• Meals based on potatoes, bread, rice, pasta or other starchy carbohydrates, ideally whole grains
• 30 grams of fiber a day: This is the same as eating all of the following: 5 servings of fruits and vegetables, 2 whole grain crackers, 2 thick slices of whole grain bread, and large baked potatoes with the skin on.
• Have some dairy or dairy alternatives (like soy drinks) by choosing lower-fat, lower-sugar options
• Eat some beans, legumes, fish, eggs, meat and other proteins (including 2 portions of fish each week, one of which should be fatty)
• Choose unsaturated and spreadable oils and consume them in small amounts
• Drink 6-8 cups/glasses of water a day
• Adults should have less than 6g of salt and 20g of saturated fat for women or 30g for men per day.
Source: NHS Eatwell Guide