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A single one ounce Snickers mini candy bar would require 30 minutes of hard exercise to burn off.
A single one ounce Snickers mini candy bar would require 30 minutes of hard exercise to burn off.

Rowing for Snickers

Would knowing how much physical exercise it takes to burn off the food we consume help you make wiser choices?

Last night, my wife of more than 40 years proudly came up from the basement where we have our decade-old True treadmill and now a new First Degree rowing machine. She said she'd rowed over 2km and burned 129 calories in something around 30 minutes (She's just starting out getting back into active exercise. I've been at for about a year now).

Since she'll turn 65 this December, I am delighted with her progress, but I did have a bit of bad news for her. That 129 calories is one calorie less than that contained in a single Snickers peanut butter mini candy bar, which measures a mere 4 cm square and weighs just 25 grams or 1 ounce. I know that because I have this weakness for them ever since we bought a bag to hand out at Halloween a year or so ago. So, when I bought a small bag of them yesterday, along with the makings for chili, I checked the nutritional label on the packaging. All that sugar and fat packs a real energy wallop.

Now if only we could have EV batteries…. but I digress.

This sudden interest in the calories in the 'food' we eat arose after reading an article in the Washington Post entitled, "Want a treadmill with your burger." The author, Sarah Kliff, was blogging about a part of the Affordable Care Act, also known as 'Obamacare,' that requires all fast food restaurants to post the calorie count of the food items they sell, from burgers to colas; the aim being to get people to act more responsibly in the food they decide to consume.

She highlighted a new study out of North Carolina that suggests that those nutrition labels "could be more effective if they included additional information -- namely, the exercise required to work off the calories at hand." Researchers at the University of North Carolina Medical Center showed employees there one of four menus: one with no nutritional information, one with just the calorie count, a third also showing the amount of exercise those calories represent, and the fourth showing the time it would take to walk off those calories.

Kliff reports:

Those provided with no calorie labels at all ordered, on average, 1020 calories. A menu with calorie labels dropped that down to 927 calories. But the one that did best was the third option, which showed how far someone would need to walk to burn off their meal. Under that scenario, study participants ordered an average of 826 calories.

So, did the labels make any real difference in what people ordered as opposed to simply filling out a survey? A study in New York City suggests that they may, in fact, not make any difference. While those surveyed told researchers that the calorie labels helped them make healthier selections, when the researchers looked at what their subjects actually ordered, there was little difference between what they ordered prior to the city's label law and after it.

As part of Mayor Bloomberg's program to restrict the sale of sugar-heavy 20-once carbonated beverages like colas in New York City, the program issued the map of Manhattan, which shows how far you'd have to walk to burn off the calories in that one soda.

Is it any wonder then why we have an obesity epidemic in America?

BTW… I rowed this morning at a level 9 resistance for 31:29 minutes at a rate of 2:46 minutes per 500m, burning 299 calories in the process, so I can have two Snickers… not!

map of Manhattan and distance that must be walked to burn off calories of a single 20 oz. soft drink.

Posted By: Bill Moore [03-May-2013]

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