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Experts have called for food labels to show the amount of exercise needed to burn off calories

Obesity crisis: Radical change to food products has backing from health-conscious Britons

WT24 Desk

In a bid to tackle the growing obesity crisis, professionals have called for food labelling to make some extreme changes, The Daily and Sunday Express reports.  Instead of nutritional information, the Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) are recommending food labelling needs to change so people know how much exercise they would need to do to burn off the calories.

They said “activity equivalent” calorie labelling should be put on the front of food and drink packs, with pictures showing the exercise needed to match the calorie intake. The RSPH proposes the tables could form prominent pictorial icons alongside existing front-of-pack information in a move which would bombard the consumer with information about their health.

In a poll, they found almost two thirds of the public would back the extreme change to food labels. It is hoped the move would promote and normalise physical activity. Some 53 per cent even believe this initiative would make them do more exercise, eat less or opt for healthier products, compared to the current traffic light system.

People were three times more likely to say they would take some form of exercise after viewing “activity equivalent” calorie labels than after viewing current traffic light labels alone, research also found. The new call is included in a policy paper by RSPH which shows many people find current front-of-pack nutritional information confusing, with many suffering “information overload”.

Shirley Cramer, chief executive of the RSPH, said: “Although nutritional information provided on food and drink packaging has improved, it is evident that it isn’t working as well as it could to support the public in making healthy choices.

“Activity equivalent calorie labelling provides a simple means of making the calories contained within food and drink more relatable to people’s everyday lives, while also gently reminding consumers of the need to maintain active lifestyles and a healthy weight.” Steven Ward, Executive Director of ukactive, added: “Anything that can get people more physically active is a step in the right direction.

“ukactive welcomes this paper as another sign that getting more people, more active, more often is at the top of public health professionals’ minds. We see a lot of health messaging telling us off, to eat and drink less, which although correct, doesn’t work for everyone.

“Encouraging people to be more active is a positive message, more about supporting people to start rather than imploring them to stop. Physical activity has been described by the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges as a ‘miracle cure’ so we should treat it as just that.”

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