Could a new system of Food Labelling curb the Obesity Crisis?
A new study has claimed that Food labels telling people how much exercise is needed to burn off what they eat could be more effective at helping weight loss than just listing the amount of calories. There are now around 13 million adults in the UK who are classed as clinically obese and the situation is being described as “a dangerous public health threat”. The Royal Society for Public Health UK says most people do not understand the meaning of calories and fat levels in terms of energy balance. It has been calling for the introduction of “physical activity calorie equivalent or expenditure” (Pace) food labelling. It tells consumers how many minutes or miles of exercise they need to do to burn off the calories in a particular product.
Loughborough University who performed the study has predicted that the proposed system could shave off up to around 200 calories per person each day on average if widely applied. The team conducted 14 trials and using the data found that 65 fewer calories per meal were selected when Pace labelling was used, and 80-100 fewer calories consumed, which is the equivalent 200 calories per day. Loughborough University was recently named as University of the Year by The Times and Sunday Times University Guide 2019.
The report which was published in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health (A Public Health Journal) concluded that “Pace labelling is a simple strategy that could be easily included on food/beverage packaging by manufacturers, on shelving price labels in supermarkets, and/or in menus in restaurants/fast-food outlets”. Loughborough University however did caution that many of the studies from which the data was drawn were not carried out in real-life environments, such as restaurants and supermarkets and said the effects of Pace labelling could vary according to context, with marketing, time constraints and price all likely to affect choices.
The Royal Society for Public Health welcomed the new research which builds the case for introducing activity equivalent food labelling.