Washington: Restaurant menus displaying the minutes of exercise-brisk walking in this case-needed to burn food calories are being explored as a new angle for encouraging reduced calorie intake.
More restaurants are displaying calorie information on their menus than ever before. The goal is to encourage consumers to make healthier, informed food choices.
The majority of studies, however, show that providing information on calorie content does not lead to fewer calories ordered or consumed.
"We need a more effective strategy to encourage people to order and consume fewer calories from restaurant menus," said Dr. Meena Shah, Texas Christian University (TCU).
Ashlei James, TCU added, "Brisk walking is something nearly everyone can relate to, which is why we displayed on the menu the minutes of brisk walking needed to burn food calories."
Shah, the senior researcher, and James, the lead researcher and graduate student, recently conducted a study of 300 men and women ages 18-30.
"The group was randomly assigned to a menu without calorie labels, a menu with calorie labels, or a menu with labels for the minutes of brisk walking needed to burn the food calories," James said.
The results indicated that the menu displaying the minutes of brisk walking needed to burn food calories led to fewer calories ordered and consumed compared with the menu without calorie labels.
Of note, there was no difference between the menu with calorie labels and the menu without calorie labels in the number of calories ordered and consumed by the subjects.
"This study suggests there are benefits to displaying exercise minutes to a group of young men and women. We can`t generalize to a population over age 30, so we will further investigate this in an older and more diverse group," Shah said.
The study was eye-opening for many of the subjects.
Results from this study were presented orally at the Experimental Biology 2013 meeting in Boston.