Readers split over benefits of 'activity equivalent' calorie labelling on food in bid to tackle obesity

Readers have had split views on a proposal to replace calories with the amount of ‘exercise required’ on food labelling in an effort to tackle obesity.

By Sophie Brownson
Wednesday, 11th December 2019, 8:19 pm
Updated Wednesday, 11th December 2019, 9:02 pm
Proposals suggest that "exercise required" on food labelling would be an effective effort to tackle obesity. 
Photo by PA.
Proposals suggest that "exercise required" on food labelling would be an effective effort to tackle obesity.  Photo by PA.

The suggestion comes from the Royal Society for Public Health, which claims that new evidence has shown that labelling food with how much exercise would be needed to burn it off – rather than the calories it contains – is an effective way of encouraging people to live healthier lifestyles.

It follows research from Loughborough University found that physical activity calorie equivalent or expenditure (PACE) labelling reduced the amount of calories consumed.

The university researchers predict the system could shave off up to around 200 calories per person each day on average, if applied.

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In our daily poll we asked readers: “Do you think telling people how much exercise they need to do to burn off food and drink could be more effective at encouraging healthier choices?”

We were met with a closely divided opinion in response to the question, with a small majority in favour of the exercise required packaging overall.

In Sunderland, from more than 500 voters, 55% of readers said yes, they thought it would be beneficial to people, while 45% of residents said no.

In South Shields out of nearly 300 voters, 51% said yes, while 49% said no.

While in Hartlepool from nearly 200 votes, 56% agreed with the benefits of the packaging, while 44% said no.

And in Northumberland, out of more than 600 people who voted 53% said yes, while 47% said no.

Lynne Veitch said: “It could make obsessive dieters even more obsessive, resulting in an increase in eating disorders.”

Eileen Joyce commented: “If people don’t know by now, they will never know in my opinion.”

Adrian Paul was in favour, saying: “Yes, cracking idea. Hope companies take this on!”

Vanessa Pickering disagreed: “No, it might sound more daunting to some if you put it that way.

“Suggesting exercise in more enjoyable ways would be better.”

Emma Pringle said: “It’s way to demonise foods leading to unhealthy food obsessions.”