Thursday, 13 June 2013

Thursday's Random Thought (Menus listing calories and exercise)

You have just been seated at your favourite restaurant.  You have been looking forward to this meal and ordering your favourite menu item all week.  When the waitress hands you the menu you notice that there is a something different in the way it looks.  Your favourite items are still listed but listed beside each item is the amount of time it would take to burn off that meal by taking a brisk walk.

Would that information make you rethink you ordering choice?

Would you still order that dessert if you knew that it would take two hours of brisk walking to burn it off?

In the U.S. “by law, retail food establishments that are part of a chain with twenty or more locations nationwide must disclose the calories content of each menu item.”  However, the majority of studies show that providing information on calorie count does not lead to fewer calories ordered or consumed.  In the first study of its kind, researchers at Texas Christian University have discovered that out of group of 300 study participants, those ordering from a menu that displayed the amount of exercise needed to burn off the calories in each food, ordered significantly fewer calories than those ordering from a menu not showing either calories or exercise-costs.

The study (in a nutshell) went something like this;

GROUP ONE – (99 participants) - ordered lunch from a menu without calorie or exercise labels.

GROUP TWO – (99 participants) – ordered lunch from a menu listing only calories

GROUP THREE – (102 participants) – ordered lunch from a menu with labels as to the minutes of brisk walk needed to burn the calories of each food.

All of menus listed the same food and beverage options.


The researchers found that the Exercise-listed group ordered and consumed significantly fewer calories than the No-Calories-listed group.

However, they found that the No-Calories-listed Group and the Calories-listed groups did not differ significantly in the food calories ordered and consumed.

The groups were all under the age of 30 and the researchers do not want to generalize, but in the groups of young men and women studied listing exercise times to burn off the menu items made a BIG difference in the their choices.  The researchers chose “brisk walking” since everyone can relate to the activity.  They plan on continuing their research with other age groups to see if the results are similar.

Would it make a difference to me?  I think it would because I am on this journey.

Would it make a difference to someone else not concerned about their weight?  In my opinion, whether that person is overweight or not, if they are not concerned going in that number on the menu is probably not going to make a difference in their ordering (despite the study).

Would it make a difference to you?

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