The Royal Society for Public Health, an organization of health care professionals in the United Kingdom, is advocating "activity equivalent" labels, according to CNN. They would tell consumers how many minutes they would have to engage in several types of exercise, such as walking and jogging, to expend the calories in specific food items.
It is an intriguing idea, according to experts in the U.S., but there isn't enough information about whether these labels do any good to recommend them, much less require them by law, they said. Some even worry the activity labels could have unintended effects.
"I think it's a good idea, but I'm a believer in evidence-based policy, so we need a fair bit more evidence before we would have a good justification for moving to a law" requiring food makers to include this label on products, said James F. Sallis, professor of family and preventive medicine at University of California-San Diego.
There has not been a lot of research on the effect of physical activity labels, but the studies that are out there are somewhat encouraging. One study asked more than 800 parents to look at a fast food menu online and pick which meal they would order for their child. Parents who viewed a menu that listed calories and the number of minutes or miles to walk to burn them off did not order a lower calorie meal than those who saw only calories listed. Nevertheless, parents said they would be more likely to encourage their child to exercise if they saw information about physical activity on menus.
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