Seeing that a quarter-pound double cheeseburger clocks in at 520 calories may make you stop and think before you order it, but seeing that it would take you about 2 hours to briskly walk off your lunch may make you switch to a lighter option, according to new research.
In a Texas Christian University study, 300 men and women looked at one of three menus. Each had the same items, but one group saw a basic menu, the second received a menu with calorie labels, and the last looked a menu with labels for how many minutes of brisk walking it would take to burn off each item.
While there was no difference in the number of calories ordered or consumed between the first two groups, those who saw the sweat times ordered 139 fewer calories and consumed 97 fewer calories, CNN reported.
"This study suggests there are benefits to displaying exercise minutes to a group of young men and women,” lead study author Meena Shah, Ph.D. said in a press release. But although the results seem promising, nutrition expert Mayling Kajiya says the study is too small to make big conclusions, and the exercise times may make ordering harder.
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“Exercise conversions, when put in context, don’t work when everyone burns them differently,” she say. “The amount of time a 200-pound man needs to walk to burn off a meal compared to a 115-pound woman is not the same. Adding exercise times could ultimately create more confusion to people who are already easily confused by nutrition information.”
She added that the idea of needing to burn off everything you eat could lead some people down a path of disordered eating while setting a trap for those already disposed to eating disorders.