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A Surprisingly Simple Way to Make Better Food Choices

A Surprisingly Simple Way to Make Better Food Choices


In the past few decades, we’ve grown accustomed to seeing — and reading — nutrition labels on our groceries. But with obesity on the rise in the United States, it sure seems like this knowledge hasn’t swayed many of us from making better food choices.

Is there a better way to change the public’s habits? Ashlei James, a graduate student at Texas Christian University, has a better idea. Instead of giving diners menus with calories listed, perhaps we should be giving them an estimate of how much exercise it would take to burn off those calories. In James’ study, 300 participants received menus with calories listed, with no calories listed, and with the walk times to burn off those calories listed. The results? Participants who received a menu with walk times listed ordered less and ate less of the items on the menu. The participants who received menus without walk times or calories listed, and even those with just calories listed, didn’t change their eating habits at all.

For a little perspective, here are some rough figures of how long a 130 pound woman would need to walk to burn off the calories in some popular chain restaurant dishes, assuming a moderate pace of three miles per hour:

  • Olive Garden’s Fettuccine Alfredo: 6 Hours 15 minutes.
  • P.F. Chang’s Mongolian Beef: 5 Hours 10 Minutes.
  • McDonald’s Big Mac: 3 Hours.
  • Pizza Hut’s Cheese Pizza (per slice): 1 Hour 15 Minutes.

Wow — that’s really some food for thought! Prompting consumers to think about how much they’d have to walk to burn off those decadent meals does seem to have an effect on eating choices. Would it change your choices? Tell us in the comments!

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Read more: Basics, Community, Diet & Nutrition, Eating for Health, Family, Fitness, Food, Fun, General Health, Green Kitchen Tips, Health, Life, Mental Wellness, Vegan, Vegetarian,

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Katie Waldeck

Katie is a freelance writer focused on pets, food and women’s issues. A Chicago native and longtime resident of the Pacific Northwest, Katie now lives in Oakland, California.


+ add your own
10:33PM PST on Dec 27, 2013

Yikes, guess I better start eating nothing but fruits and veggies.

5:29PM PDT on May 16, 2013

Thanks --NOT--

5:30PM PDT on May 1, 2013

Fortunately, I don't have to watch everything I eat or I'd never be able to stop walking.

2:25PM PDT on Apr 27, 2013

Wow, this really might work on me, maybe then I'll be able to lose weight. Some dietician should start giving these advices.

10:49AM PDT on Apr 27, 2013

This information and knowledge is out there and available to everyone. Take the responsibility for your own health. Wake up! If you don't care enough for yourself, do it for me. I don't care to pay higher health care costs because of your indifference and selfishness.

10:38AM PDT on Apr 27, 2013

Hell yes, it'd help me! No way in hell can I walk the 6+ hours required to work off the calories listed in the Olive Garden item posted as an example without waking up the following morning with my entire lower half swollen from the effort; which would probably PERMANENTLY cripple me!!

9:15AM PDT on Apr 27, 2013


9:36AM PDT on Apr 26, 2013


9:36AM PDT on Apr 26, 2013


8:43AM PDT on Apr 26, 2013 is simple!!

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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