We often discuss the importance of reading food labels in this blog. Healthy eating really starts with knowing what it is you’re putting in your mouth. Women’s Health Magazine sites a new study from Johns Hopkins University that provides an interesting take on labels.

They are proposing that junk food packages also include the amount of exercise it will take to burn off the number of calories in one serving of the food. They believe that the ingredients and nutrition facts should still be there too, but they found that providing the amount of exercise was a big deterrent to over-eating.

To test their theory, researchers posted three different signs outside stores to see which was best at deterring teenagers from purchasing (and drinking) soda beverages. The first sign stated that the average can of soda contains 250 calories. The second stated that the average soda contains 10 percent of a person’s recommended daily caloric intake. The third sign stated that it would take 50 minutes of running to burn off the calories in a can of soda.

While all three of these signs were true, and all three resulted in some reduction in soda purchase, the “physical activity equivalent” sign was the big winner. It was the most effective deterrent, with soda sales dropping 50 percent!

What is the lesson here? When making choices about healthy eating, it is sometimes difficult to picture how the amount of calories or fat or sodium will actually affect us. It is much easier to make choices when we are given a comparison to something we know, like running. In this example, we can all picture 50 minutes of running, and then it’s easy to decide if we want to trade that for a can of soda.

To make healthy choices, try making a list of activities that consume various amounts of calories. A good list can be found at NutriStrategy. Then, when you’re thinking about eating that snack, compare the calories on the label to your list and decide how much you really want it.

Remember, healthy choices we make each day can transform your family for generations! What choices will you make today?

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