Exercise Labels for Junk Food

A regular can of soda has about 140 calories.  Maybe that information just made you shrug, but what if I told you that, according to Runner’s World, it’s the equivalent to running between a mile and a mile and a quarter.  Do I have your attention now?

What if that same information was on the can itself, giving you pause before you popped open and took a swig?

Should we label junk food with examples of how much exercise it takes to burn them off?  A few health policy groups think it’s a good idea.  Honestly, I do too.  We’re already labeling food with calories, fat grams, etc., and it doesn’t seem to be working all that well. Maybe if we put it in graphic terms of time needed to sweat it off, that will get more people’s attention.

I remember a clip from the second season of “Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution.”  He was at a high school and let a group of students pick any snack they wanted.  After they munched away he informed them they now had to burn it off on the track.  Each was assigned a number of laps until they had expended the same amount of calories they had just consumed.  The girl who chose the apple was happy; the guy who chose the candy bar was pretty bummed.  But, he said he had no idea how much exercise it took to work off his chosen treat, and he’d pick more wisely next time.  It got through to him quite viscerally.

What would you do if you were staring at a bag of junk food on the shelf and reading how many laps it was going to cost you?  Would you reconsider your choices?  Or do you think we should just let people do whatever they want and it’s up them to figure out the “costs”?  Generally my readers are for less government interference, and rightly so when you consider how bad some of the information they dole out is … But maybe this is one they can’t mess up.  Thoughts?