Nutrition labeling has been required on packaged food since 1990, and the new federal food safety law will require calorie counts to be posted for restaurant food — all in an effort to get the American public to eat healthier.
But most studies on calorie count labels show they don’t do much to nudge people toward better food choices. If I want that oh-so-delicious Chunky Monkey ice cream, knowing that a half-cup serving delivers 300 calories and 18 grams of fat isn’t going to stop me.
But what if I knew that it would take me an hour and 20 minutes of brisk walking to burn off those Chunky Monkey calories? Would I think twice?
Probably, says Ashlei James, a graduate student at Texas Christian University. She tested how much people ate when given menus with labels that stated how much brisk walking would be required to burn off the calories in a given food item. She compared that to menus with calorie counts, and those with no information, and tracked how much people ordered and ate.