Experts say that food label warnings about the amount of physical exercise needed to burn off the calories contained in the product work.
According to the researchers from Loughborough University in the UK, who looked at 14 separate studies to reach their conclusions, a simple label advising the consumer that it would take four hours to walk off the calories contained in a pizza, or 22 minutes of running to burn off a chocolate bar are effective in making people think twice about purchasing certain foods.
They say the labels help people indulge less and could encourage healthier eating habits to fight obesity. Right now, it is estimated that two-thirds of the UK adult population are overweight or obese.
Publishing their findings in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, the researchers say this simple type of labelling could help cut about 200 calories from a person's daily average intake.
The reason it works is because people don’t really appreciate calories when they see them as just numbers. But by elaborating and highlighting how much exercise is needed to burn off a particular food product, the consumer is able to make a much more informed decision.
Lead researcher Prof Amanda Daley said: “We know that the public routinely underestimate the number of calories that are in foods. So if you buy a chocolate muffin and it contains 500 calories, for example, then that's about 50 minutes of running.”