Healthy Living

Obesity Epidemic: Adding Exercise Advice On Food Labels May Aid Weight Loss

Food packaging should guide consumers in how to lose the calories they consumed from the products. That is according to a new study that suggested adding exercise tips to food labels to help people lose weight and combat obesity.

Researchers said putting physical activity calorie equivalent (PACE) labels to food packaging may help people reduce calorie consumption by up to 200 calories per person per day. For example, the label on a chocolate bar would inform consumers that it would take 23 minutes of running or 46 minutes of walking to get rid of the 230 calories it contains.

The proposal, published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, was based on the analysis of 14 studies that looked into the effects of existing PACE labeling in the United Kingdom. Researchers said the exercise tips worked effectively in helping some people manage weight. 

Amanda Daley, lead researcher from the University of Loughborough in England, said that the current labeling system that only include calories and nutrients "hasn't made a huge difference to obesity in the U.K.” She noted guiding people in their calorie consumption and physical activity may help reduce obesity rates. 

The researchers plan to add the PACE labeling beside existing labels and not to replace them. The team aims to give the public more information on both the product’s content and the needed physical activity to manage weight.

Daley said PACE will be a “really simple and really straightforward” strategy. If approved, the exercise tips will be added to all food and drink packaging, supermarket labels and restaurant menus, CNN reported.

However, PACE may not be helpful to all consumers. The proposed labels "could be extremely problematic" for people with eating disorders, according to Nichola Ludlam-Raine, a registered dietitian and spokesperson for the British Dietetic Association.

He said PACE labels suggest that food needs to be "earnt or burnt off" as well as the idea that calories should be the priority in foods rather than nutrients. But Daley noted that there is no evidence available showing PACE labels can cause eating disorders.

Weight loss This picture taken on May 25, 2015, shows overweight people exercising at the Aimin Fat Reduction Hospital in China. More than simply dieting, there are other factors to consider if you want to maintain a healthy weight. Fred Dufour/AFP/Getty Images