Menus listing exercise, not calories, may be more effective

When you pull up to a fast food drive-thru, you may glance at the calorie count next to the burger you are craving. But research conducted by Texas Christian University says listing calories next to fast-food items isn’t stopping people from indulging.

Texas Christian University researchers are testing a new approach — listing the amount of exercise equal to each item on the menu.

In the study, 300 men and women between 18 and 30 years old were divided in to three groups and were asked to order one item off of the menu they were given. The three different menus contained the same food options, but certain groups were given different information.

One group was given a menu with no calorie or exercise labels. A second group was given a menu with the total calories for each food item, and a third group was given a menu with the number of minutes of brisk walking that were equivalent to the food item.

The group that was given the physical activity-labeled menu ordered and consumed less calories than the group with the unlabeled menu.

The study also demonstrated no substantial difference between the amount of calories consumed in the group given the calorie-labeled menu and the group given the unlabeled menu.

Women’s Health Magazine shared a great depiction of the comparison between unhealthy food items and the amount of exercise equivalent to burning those calories.


Understanding the relationship between the calories we are consuming and the amount of exercise it takes to burn those calories might help us to make healthier eating decisions. I know if I looked at a menu that told me a burger was equal to two hours of brisk walking, I’d probably pass.

Find out more about the fast food study in the April 24, 2013 Time Magazine post.

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Megan McCook
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1 thought on “Menus listing exercise, not calories, may be more effective”

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Menus listing exercise, not calories, may be more effective