Gut Check: Making simple sense out of life
By Lenore Skomal Erie Times-News staff blogger
Lenore Skomal is an award-winning author and veteran journalist in all forms of media. She is a weekly columnist and daily blogger for the Erie Times-News. She’s authored 17 published books, including an anthology of her columns, Burnt Toast available on her website   Read more about this blog.
Posted: March 19th, 2013
You have to walk 78 minutes to burn all the calories in one can of soda

This type of calculation–what researchers call “physical activity–based conversions”– can actually persuade people to make healthier food and nutritional choices. More so than just listing that information for them.

It’s considered one of the positive outcroppings of Mayor Bloomberg’s ill-fated attempt to limit the size of sodas that eateries, restaurants and other purveyors of soft drinks can sell over the counter. Recently struck down in New York court, the initiative is dead in the water. But much of the campaign, supported by a slew of posters and public awareness initiatives, which converted how much physical activity was needed to work off 20 ounces of soda, has been proven successful.

The concept goes beyond the mere of listing nutritional information to  help consumers make better choices. In fact, in a recent study by University of North Carolina (U.N.C.) at Chapel Hill School of Medicine, restaurant-goers were given several types of menus. And the one that listed no nutritional or caloric breakdown, and only listed how much physical activity was needed to burn off those ingested calories, proved the most effective in persuading them what to eat.

While some complain that this is a prolific dumbing down of information, those in the health field counter that it’s merely a way to translate nutritional information into something that is readily applicable. And in the long run, will help consumers make better choices.

You can read the entire article in Scientific American.

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