Food labels indicating the amount of exercise needed to burn the calories in the product are touted as a way to reduce obesity, but not everyone is convinced.
Researchers from Loughborough University in the UK believe that labeling certain foods with their physical activity calorie equivalent (PACE), which tells people how much walking or running is needed to ‘eliminate’ the food , can reduce obesity.
“PACE labeling is really about trying to translate energy into food,” said Professor Daley.
“Just give people a number [of calories or kilojoules] without context doesn’t really help them make a decision.
“[If] I just said to you, for example, “You know, a bag of crisps has 150 calories”, what does that really mean for you, as a consumer? It’s just three numbers, right?
Professor Daley recently presented the PACE idea at the International Obesity Congress in Melbourne in October.
While the Loughborough University team is still testing PACE labeling in cafeterias and vending machines, they say early results are promising.
“Our early results showed that when you put PACE labeling in the context of where people have to make food decisions, it reduces the number of calories the public selects for consumption, which is exactly what we’re trying to do. to do,” she said.
“Most people are overweight, most of us eat a little too much food and don’t do enough physical activity.
“We also found that the public said that if PACE labeling was introduced it would help them think about what they eat, but also reduce their purchases of calorie-dense foods.”
The majority of the Australian adult population is overweight
The latest Australian Bureau of Statistics Health Survey, conducted in 2018, found that 67% of adults in Australia and 25% of children were overweight or obese.
Some ABC Radio Perth listeners said they thought the PACE labels would be useful.
Hendo: “I am a MASSIVE chocolate addict. I think the new labels are a good idea to keep me informed of the amount of additional physical activity required for the chocolate bars I eat daily.”
Hailey“Rhythm labeling is a great idea. Informed consent before jumping on a chocolate bar. May even inspire people to exercise.”
Kim: “I like the idea. It would make me want to walk to the store if I really wanted a chocolate bar instead of driving to get it.”
Others had reservations:
Ciara“I don’t like that idea. As a recovered bulimic and anorexic, we don’t need labels that make people obsessed with numbers and calories in this food obsessed culture. We need to focus on eating mostly fresh food, nothing wrong with chocolate bars. Ingredient list is sufficient and good.”
alexander: “You can have 300 calories from a donut or 300 calories from a piece of fish. They have the same caloric value, but one will satisfy the other, they are just empty calories. L origin of the calories is more important.”
Food “more than calories”
Sheri Cooper, assistant lecturer in the School of Medical and Health Sciences at Edith Cowan University in Perth, said that while PACE labeling could provide useful information to people, healthy living would not happen. was not limited to calorie counting.
“We know food is much more complex than that. It’s full of nutrients and that’s important whether those calories come from nutrient-dense sources or whether they’re discretionary calories,” Dr Cooper said. .
“From a weight management perspective, you need to live a healthy lifestyle, which really requires you to eat a well-balanced diet of all five food groups, as well as not eating too many rich foods. into our saturated fat, sugar, and sodium. And that system doesn’t really make a difference to consumers.”
While calories and their exercise equivalents can be very useful information for individuals to receive as part of personalized advice from a dietitian, it is less convinced of its value as a population-level strategy.
“For the past 20 years or more, Registered Dietitians have used it as an education tool for some clients to help them manage their weight,” she said.
“It’s a good tool to show the difference between how calories contribute energy in the diet and how you burn those calories.
“Extending that to a label on a public health nutrition message is quite another thing.
“We really need good quality research to show that spreading this message really reduces the occurrence of chronic disease in the population.”
Promote healthy lifestyles
Dr Cooper said exercise should be considered part of a healthy lifestyle with a range of benefits far beyond burning calories.
“We really need to get back to the messages of the Australian dietary guidelines, which emphasize incorporating some form of exercise into daily life.
“[As well as burning calories] it can tackle a lot of other things – it reduces stress, it increases lean muscle mass, which increases your metabolic rate.”
Dr. Cooper also wasn’t sure if the labels would motivate people to exercise more.
“People operate on many different levels,” she said.
“There is no evidence to prove it.
“Even the researchers proposing this strategy have recognized that there is a gap in evidence and that there is certainly more research to be done before developing public health policy on this.”
No need for food guilt
Eating the occasional candy bar or muffin should be something people can do without guilt or feeling the need to immediately compensate with exercise, Dr. Cooper said.
“That’s healthy eating, isn’t it? Healthy eating, as we know from the Australian Dietary Guidelines, sometimes means having foods that don’t fit on the Healthy Dietary Guidelines plates.”
Professor Daley agreed that there was no single strategy that could reduce the number of overweight or obese people.
“I think there’s a lot we can do,” said Professor Daley.
“We need all the information and strategies we can to try to help the public make these decisions, keeping in mind that most of us are either overweight or obese.”
We want to hear from you. Please complete the form below and tell us your story.
Loading the form…
#food #labels #linking #calories #exercise #people #moving