How Long Does It Take to Walk Off 1 Calorie?
May 1, 2013

How Long Does It Take to Walk Off 1 Calorie?

We have all started to see them…the menus with calorie amounts on them. As we look at what food to eat, these menus tell us just how many calories are in each. This was first thought to be a great way to help the majority of people watch what they eat, and though it certainly makes people aware, one study has found that the calories listed is not likely to affect one’s decision; however, seeing how much one would have to exercise just might.

As CNN reported recently, Texas Christian University (TCU) conducted a study of 300 men and women. The participants were asked to purchase food from three fast food menus. One set of menus had just the foods and prices while the second set had foods, prices, and calories listed, and the third set had foods, prices, and the number of minutes of brisk walking it would take someone to burn off calories in the meal.

The results were interesting. As CNN explained, “People who ordered off the activity-labeled menu ordered 139 fewer calories and consumed 97 fewer calories on average than those who ordered off the menu without labels.” In this particular study, “[t]here was no significant difference in the number of calories ordered or consumed between the group that ordered off the calorie-labeled menu and the group that saw no labels. There was also no significant difference between the group that ordered off the activity-labeled menu and the group that ordered off the calorie-labeled menu.”

However, I have written about calorie amounts on menus before, and that study found that showing diners how many calories are in food items might influence how much they eat. So, with that and with this new TCU study, this says one major thing to me; we need to put both on menus. For those who count calories, seeing how many calories are in foods at restaurants (sit-down or fast-food) will help them control their calorie intake. For those who focus more on how long it takes to burn off calories, seeing the amount of minutes or brisk walking next to food items will at least make us think and plan before eating.

I know that would take up more space on menus and cost companies money, but our health is worth that investment. Demanding that we have healthy food options at all restaurants is a demand for our health. Nothing is more important than being conscientious and focused on health. Perhaps it is time we stop giving companies a pass and demand health and information about the foods we purchase.

The TCU study and the study from my previous blog also tell me that more research needs to go into these ideas. I am not just jumping up and saying “Let’s change now.” I am, though, in favor of more transparency. If we know how many calories and how much time it takes to burn those calories off, we just might make wiser eating choices. If we do not have that information, then how can we know how we would react.

We have gone long enough and slipped far enough into the depths of obesity. I know that seeing calorie amounts on menus helps me when I am deciding on what to order. I always try to order the healthier choices, and if that information is provided to me by the menu, then I do not have to guess at the calories. I also know that if I saw how long it would take me to brisk walk calories off, that would help me even more. All of this knowledge is important to making healthy eating choices.

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Rayshell E. Clapper is an Associate Professor of English at a rural college in Oklahoma where she teaches Creative Writing, Literature, and Composition classes. She has presented her original fiction and non-fiction at several conferences and events including: Scissortail Creative Writing Festival, Howlers and Yawpers Creativity Symposium, Southwest/Texas Pop Culture Association/American Culture Association Regional Conference, and Pop Culture Association/American Culture Association National Conference. Her publications include Cybersoleil Journal, Sugar Mule Literary Magazine, Red Dirt Anthology, Originals, and Oklahoma English Journal. Beyond her written works, she successfully created a writer's group in rural Oklahoma to support burgeoning writers. The written word is her passion, and all she experiences inspires that passion. She hopes to help inspire others through her words.

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