Translating Calories Into Effort To Burn Leads Kids To Pass On Soda

Interesting news from TIME Heartland -

Does calorie information help consumers make healthier choices? Not always. But a new study finds that when calorie counts are presented in an easily understandable way, even teenagers — those experts in never listening to useful advice — can be persuaded to avoid high-sugar choices.

For the new study, published in the American Journal of Public Health, researchers from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health went to corner stores in predominantly black neighborhoods of Baltimore and posted signs showing calorie information about sugary drinks (sodas, fruit drinks, energy drinks) on refrigerated beverage cases.

The researchers tested three different signs, each brightly colored, in four corner stores. One sign said that a bottle of soda or fruit drink had 250 calories. Another noted that each bottle contained 10% of a person’s recommended daily calorie intake. A third sign informed consumers that they would have to run for 50 minutes to burn off the calories in a single sugary drink.

The researchers collected data for 1,600 beverage purchases by black teens — who tend to drink more sugary beverages and to be obese — including 400 sales during a no-sign baseline period, and 400 for each of the three signs.

Overall, they found, teens were 40% less likely to buy a sugary drink after seeing any of the posted calorie counts than when they were given no information. They were even less inclined to buy a soda or a fruit drink after viewing the sign that presented the exercise equivalent, which reduced soft drink purchases by 50%.

I can see how this would work.

When I joined Weight Watchers, it allowed me to make the same decisions. Instead of seeing a Dunkin’ Donuts Donuts Chocolate Frosted Donut as a “goodie,” I saw it as a PointsPlus value of 8. And, the program also told me that I would have to walk for 40 minutes to earn those 8 points.

That allowed me to pass on the “goodie.” Who the heck wants to walk for 40 minutes just to burn off one stinkin’ donut?

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