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A recent study found that food labels that indicate how much exercise is needed to burn calories can encourage people to opt for healthier food choices.
Researchers from Loughborough University in the United Kingdom have found that putting exercise labels on food packaging can help people reduce their daily calorie intake by about 200 calories. The exercise labels, called physical activity calorie equivalent (PACE), display how many hours of exercise a person needs to burn off calories from certain food and drinks. For instance, the PACE label of a pint of ice cream shows that it takes over four hours of walking or around two hours of running to burn off the calories.
To come up with their findings, the researchers analyzed 14 studies that examined and compared the PACE labeling to other food labeling strategies. One of the strategies is the traffic light labeling system, which is the current nutritional labeling system for food packaging in the United Kingdom.
This current system informs customers whether a certain product contains high or low amounts of sugar, energy, fat, and salt using color-coding. However, the researchers said that unlike the PACE labeling, this system does not resonate well with people.
In line with these findings, lead researcher Amanda Daley urged the government to consider the PACE labeling as a supplement to the current food labeling system. She added that the PACE labeling may help curb the growing number of people with obesity.
In response, a Royal Society for Public Health executive said that the government is open to the idea of promoting the PACE labeling as an effective way to encourage people to adopt a healthier and more active lifestyle.