Imagine if the food labels, in addition to the calorie count, came with an indication of how much exercise it would take to burn them. A can of soda, for example, needs 50 minutes of workout to get out. Before buying, we would think twice.
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If labels recommended exercises, the simple practice of product thinking could end impulse buying of “fattening” products.
This is the work (and the dream) of Professor Sara Bleich of Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in the United States. A fight against the interests of manufacturers and sellers - and in favor of reducing hidden sugar consumption.
In tests, notices for this purpose were placed on labels for soft drinks and ready-made juices in Baltimore supermarkets. The required exercise target was calculated based on the metabolic rate of 15-year-old and 50-pound black adolescents. This group consumes on average twice as much of this category of beverages as the maximum recommended by the American Health Association.
Labels with the amount of exercise dropped sales of soda and juice. When there were, they were consumed in smaller packages. Learning was effective and lasting, as buying behavior continued to decline even after the warnings were removed. 40% of young people reported changing or eliminating the habit of drinking sugary drinks.
According to Sara, the experiment worked because it was possible to "see" the effort needed to burn the calories consumed. Traditionally, mentioning the number of calories complies with the law but does not impact. The reason is that we don't understand what they mean simply because we don't like numbers. Ideally, manufacturers should inform what they should, but in a more visual and didactic way.
The next step in the study is to extend testing to areas where young people of Hispanic origin live, and to apply labels to solid foods. According to a survey by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 21 percent of blacks, 23 percent of Hispanics, and 16 percent of whites in that country drink at least one can of soda a day. With all this, Sara gathers evidence to convince lawmakers to change the way companies communicate what they sell.
The ultimate goal is to reveal the truth behind the labels so that we have awareness and reason, not just impulses and emotion, to relate to products.