News That Matters

Food labels telling people how much exercise is needed to burn off calories won’t help tackle obesity work, study suggests

More than three in five UK adults are overweight or obese, increasing their risk of diseases such as type 2 diabetes and cancer.

In the UK, adults eat as many as a third of their meals out of home, including in workplace cafeterias, and these meals are often much higher in calories than meals eaten at home. Since April 2022, calorie labelling is now required on food and drink served out of the home in businesses employing 250 or more people. While many people welcome this information, evidence for its effectiveness in reducing calories purchased or consumed is limited in quantity and quality. For example, two previous studies conducted by the authors in nine worksite cafeterias found no evidence for an effect of simple calorie labelling (kcal) on calories purchased. 

food label study

Some experts have called for the use of so-called PACE (physical activity calorie-equivalent) labels on food and drink products. These show the amount of exercise required to burn off calories.

A recent systematic review of the existing evidence concluded that PACE labels may reduce energy selected from menus and decrease the energy consumed when compared with simple calorie labels or no labels, but only one of the 15 studies reviewed was in a ‘real world’ setting.

To explore whether PACE labels can make a difference in real world settings, researchers from the University of Cambridge’s Behaviour and Health Research Unit placed PACE labels alongside food and drinks items in 10 workplace cafeterias in England over a 12-week period in 2021. 

Source link