Is that Burger (Or Soda) Worth the Calories?

by Charles Platkin, PhD

The cost of a calorie could have an impact on choices. Ever find yourself debating whether or not to purchase an order of fries? What if restaurant menu boards spelled out exactly how much exercise you would have to do to burn the in your favorite foods? It might just change your decision-making habits. Here are some examples: 
–      McDonald’s Large French Fries: 510 calories; walk for 131 minutes to burn those calories off
–      McDonald’s Hamburger: 240 calories; walk for 62 minutes to burn those calories off
–      Glazed Cake Doughnut: 350 calories; walk for 90 minutes to burn those calories off
–      Bagel with Butter: 560 calories; walk for 144 minutes to burn those calories off
–      Blueberry Muffin: 465 calories; walk for 120 minutes to burn those calories off
–      Potato Chips: 150 calories; walk for 39 minutes to burn those calories off
Research done by Charles Platkin ( Detective) and colleagues, appearing in the journal BMC Obesity, shows there is a possibility that using exercise equivalents could influence behavior concerning the purchase of fast food. The translation of calorie consumption into exercise expenditure gives consumers a tool for deciding what a calorie means and which calories are worth it. See:
In another, similar study conducted at Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health, easy-to-understand signs linking exercise to sugar-sweetened beverage consumption were shown to help teens make healthier choices. Adolescents who saw printed signs explaining the number of miles they would need to walk to burn off the calories in a sugary drink were more likely to leave the store with a lower-calorie beverage, a healthier beverage or a smaller beverage.

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