(Relaxnews) – Restaurants with menus displaying how much exercise is required to burn off the meal may help people eat less and make healthier choices, a new study finds.
While prior research has found that providing calorie count information on restaurant menus doesn’t necessarily lead to fewer calories ordered, researchers from Texas Christian University in the US suggest that exercise requirements to burn off the meal could be more relatable.
“We need a more effective strategy to encourage people to order and consume fewer calories from restaurant menus,” said senior researcher Dr. Meena Shah.
“Brisk walking is something nearly everyone can relate to, which is why we displayed on the menu the minutes of brisk walking needed to burn food calories,” added lead researcher Ashlei James.
The research included 300 people, aged 18 to 30, who were randomly assigned to be given a menu without calorie labels, a menu with calorie labels, or a menu with labels for the minutes of brisk walking needed to burn off the calories in the food. Typical menu items included burgers, chicken sandwiches, salad, fries, desserts, soda, and water.
An example of the information on the menu was that a woman would need to walk briskly for two hours to burn off the calories in a double cheeseburger, the researchers said.
The people given the menu listing the minutes of exercise ordered and consumed fewer calories than those given the other menus. However, there was no difference in the number of calories ordered and consumed between the subjects who ordered from the other two menus, the ones with and without calorie labels.
Results from the study were presented April 23 at the Experimental Biology 2013 meeting in Boston.