would you drink that latte if you knew the exercise minutes required to burn it off?

February 22, 2012

in communication

i burn 80 calories dusting for 35 minutes. 200 calories if i walk roughly 40 minutes.

i know this because i used the cleveland clinic’s calculator to learn how long it’d take me to burn the calories in my favorite muffin.

i don’t routinely calculate my calories or calories burned, but i was intrigued by the john hopkins school of public health study that found teens were more likely to buy a non-sugary drink after seeing how much exercise was required to burn off the alternative.

“…what if you knew that it would take 50 minutes of jogging to burn off one soda?

“When researchers taped signs saying just that on the drink coolers in four inner-city neighborhood stores, sales of sugary beverages to teenagers dropped by 50 percent. That tactic was more effective than a sign saying that the drinks had 250 calories each, or a sign saying that a soft drink accounts for 11 percent of recommended daily calories.”

it’s easier to make sense of an item’s worth based on exercise minutes than on caloric intake. my muffin? worth it. a snapple lemon tea that clocks in at around the same number of calories? not worth it.

what do you think? would this approach work better for your employees than nutrition labels?


p.s. the calculator’s quite addictive. i keep plugging in the calories for different items to see the exercise damage.

Leave a Comment

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Bethany Garrity February 22, 2012 at 3:43 pm

It’s an interesting consideration…Would it work better than nutrition labels? Maybe. Under the banner of “Knowledge is Power”, more people might make better choices given the clear distinction/contrast in minutes of exercise required to burn XYZ food off. I think it also gets them back to the relatively simple calories in vs calories out math of weight management. The thing is…people know that an apple has fewer calories than an apple turnover, and they still choose the turnover.


fran February 22, 2012 at 4:16 pm

fair enough, bethany. but i just plugged in my pounds and the calories in an apple turnover (562, according to all recipes), and i’m looking at a 110-minute walk. that number hits you in the eyes in a whole new way.

buh-bye, apple turnover.



Frank Roche February 22, 2012 at 3:56 pm

Love, love, love.

It always amazes me to see how few calories exercise gets me. I mean, I think I’m going nuts exercising and it’s like 600 calories. Meanwhile, it doesn’t take much to eat 600 more calories. Nice one.


fran February 22, 2012 at 4:19 pm

thanks frank. i find this tool hypnotic. but i’m afraid to plug in my margarita, which i know rob’s fixing me, because we’re staunch observers of national margarita day.



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