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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Julianna D.
Juliana D4 years ago

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

Geoff Price
Past Member 4 years ago

Thanks --NOT--

B Jackson
BJ J4 years ago

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

Hanine Green
Hanine El Mir4 years ago

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

Barbara D.
Past Member 4 years ago

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.

Angela Roquemore
Angela Roquemore4 years ago

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!!

N M.
N M4 years ago


Winn Adams
Winn A4 years ago


federico bortoletto


Natasha Salgado
Past Member 4 years ago

Thanks...it is simple!!