Published April 24, 2013
While more restaurants are showcasing calorie counts on their menus, there may be a new method to help deter people from eating more than they should.
A new study found that menus displaying how much exercise it takes to burn off the calories in a meal may be more successful at getting people to eat less, Time reported.
Ever since cities like New York mandated that fast food and other restaurants must include calorie counts on their menus, studies have found the change hasn’t helped people to eat less
Looking to find a more effective strategy, researchers from Texas Christian University (TCU) replaced calorie counts on menus with the number of minutes of brisk walking it would take to entirely burn off the calories in each meal.
Dr. Meena Shah and Ashlei James from TCU tested 300 men and women between the ages of 18 and 30. Each participant randomly ordered from one of three menus: one without calories, one with calorie counts and one with minutes of walking need.
Aside from the calorie displays, all menus had the same items, ranging from burgers and sodas to salads and water.
The individuals given the amount of walking time needed to burn off their calories ordered and ate fewer calories than the other study participants – implying that putting calories in context may help individuals make healthier decisions.
“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,” Shah told Time.