If you’ve eaten in a major fast food chain (especially in New York), you are probably familiar with calorie counts being posted next to ads of Big Macs and greasy, delicious fries. The idea is to discourage you from wanting to eat too many high calorie/ high-fat foods.
According to a research study done in Maryland, there’s a more effective way-threaten to make people run! They found teenagers turned away from soda MORE when they were told drinking it would require 50 minutes of jogging to burn the calories. What really made my jaw drop was their logic:
Researchers monitored adolescents at four corner stores in West Baltimore, where low-income residents are at especially high risk for obesity partially tied to increased soda consumption. For six months last year, they posted one of three different signs near beverage cases in each store, converting a bottle of soda to a calorie count (250 calories), a percentage daily value (10%), or the amount of jogging time it would take to burn off the drink (approximately 50 minutes). The researchers intentionally used jogging, rather than more enjoyable physical activities such as basketball or dancing, because of their belief that unfavorable information is more persuasive to consumers.
So going for a run is such an arduous and unfavorable concept, people will skip soda to avoid it! I have a few problems with this logic. One, not everyone burns calories uniformly. 50 minutes of running for one person could be 6 miles, and for another, it could be 4. It’s hard to quantify if someone would really burn off a soda with a 50-minute run. Two, this type of logic can lead to overeating very easily. “I ran this morning, so I can have a bagel with cream cheese” becomes a very slippery slope. You can overeat and gain weight while being an active runner, and it’s not a ‘run this far/get to eat this much’ equation.
Also, I admit, I am a bit miffed. That many people are so horrified at running that it discouraged them from touching soda? It is kind of funny and kind of sad all at once. But it is important to remember that this applied to the target demographic in the study (teenagers) and not the general population, where sign-ups for running and triathlon races are increasing tremendously each year. Movement and ditching poor nutrition go hand in hand for health, so go for a run, but don’t reward yourself with a Coke afterward! (And especially not Mountain Dew!)