Food labels that show how much exercise the consumer needs to do in order to burn the calories consumed from eating that food could help in reducing obesity, according to UK researchers. According to new scientific research, PACE (Physical activity calorie equivalent) labels are better than labels that only show calories and nutrient content.
Under the new proposed PACE label system, a small chocolate bar would carry a label that will inform the consumer that it would take approximately 46 minutes of walking or 23 minutes of running to burn off 230 calories that a small candy bar contains. According to researchers, whose work got published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community health, if there is a large scale implementation of PACE labels, it could, on average, cut down calories consumption by nearly 200 calories per person every day. But there are also concerns that these labels can potentially impact people who are having eating disorders.
Amanda Daley, University of Loughborough lead researcher, while speaking to CNN, said that PACE labels would present the information to the consumer in a more accessible way than the currently existing calorie and nutrient content labels. The current labeling system hasn’t made a significant difference in obesity in the United Kingdom.
A team was set-up in the UK that looked into the data of 14 studies about the effectiveness of PACE labeling in restricting calorie consumption. The team of researchers found that PACE labeling is more effective than having no label, but it was more effective than calorie-only labeling. Daley added, “the aim is to add PACE information to current labels, rather than replacing them; this will give consumers more information.”
The team of researchers said that the number of studies studied in the review was small, and most of them took place in controlled environments rather than real-word, but still, they said that PACE labeling is worth trying. According to Daley, a reduction of nearly 100 calories/day, combined with some sought of daily physical activity, could efficiently reduce obesity rates.
She says that the PACE is a simple and straightforward strategy, and she suggests it could be used on drink and food packaging, restaurant menus, and supermarket labels.
Concerns related to the Eating disorder
However, a registered dietitian and spokesperson of the British Dietetic Association, Nichola Ludlam-Raine, raised some concerns over PACE labels. She said that PACE could be problematic for people with eating disorders as it suggests that food is needed to be earnt or burnt off.
She also added that it also promotes the idea that calories are more important than nutrients when it comes to food. Daley also acknowledged the issue but said that no evidence showed PACE labeling could be responsible for eating disorders.
The Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH), the health care professionals organization in the UK, is also a supporter of these labels. More studies suggest that cutting calories could bring more health benefits.