Wednesday, May 1, 2013

How Much Exercise to Work Off This Sandwich?

menu
Menu (Photo credit: pomarc)
by Douglas Quenqua, New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/30/science/exercise-versus-calories-on-menu-lists.html?_r=0

In a recent study, diners who ordered from restaurant menus that listed the amount of brisk walking required to work off each dish were less likely to overeat than those with menus that listed calories or no health information.

“We found that the menu with the exercise labels lead to significant reductions in calories ordered and consumed,” said Meena Shah, an associate professor of clinical nutrition at Texas Christian University.

Meena is also an author of the study, which was presented last week at the Experimental Biology 2013 meeting in Boston.

Furthermore, diners ordered and consumed roughly the same number of calories whether or not their menus included calorie counts.

Menus that list calories are becoming common in the United States thanks to a handful of state laws and the 2010 Affordable Care Act, which requires restaurant chains with more than 20 locations to provide them (the Food and Drug Administration is still working out the details). 

But the research on whether such menus actually prevent overeating is mixed.

Displaying the amount of moderate exercise needed to work off food might make the consequences of poor dietary choices easier to grasp, Dr. Shah said. “Everyone can relate to brisk walking.” 

The study consisted of 300 men and women ages 18 to 30 who were randomly given one of the three menus, all of which contained the same items. Dr. Shah says she hopes to expand the study to a wider age range.
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