A study led by researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Gillings School of Global Public Health found value in nutritional labeling that describes real-time energy expenditure required to burn calories in fast foods. Dr. Anthony Viera, director of the Health Care and Prevention MPH Program in the Public Health Leadership Program at the School of Global Public Health and associate professor of family medicine in the UNC medical school, co-authored the study, published March 1 in the journal Appetite.
Eating out - particularly eating fast food - may save time in the short run, but research has linked the typically carbohydrate-, fat-, and sugar-laden prepared foods to weight gain and insulin resistance. Given that one-third of adults in the U.S. are obese, making them vulnerable to chronic diseases, including heart disease, stroke, hypertension, and diabetes, the authors say that policy makers must explore new strategies to curb the obesity epidemic.
Dr. Viera and colleagues randomly assigned one of four types of menus to each of the 802 adult study participants. The types included menus with 1) no nutritional information, 2) calorie information, 3) calorie information and minutes to walk to burn those calories, and 4) calorie information and miles to walk to burn those calories.
The researchers found a statistical difference in the number of calories ordered, based on menu type. An average of 1,020 calories were ordered from a menu with no nutritional information; an average of 927 calories from a menu with only calorie information; 916, from a menu with calorie information and statement of minutes one must walk to burn those calories; and 826, from a menu with calorie information and statement of number of miles to walk to burn the calories.
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[Photo: Dr. Anthony Viera]