A public health body has called for changes in food packaging.

Food labelling needs to change so people can see how much exercise they would need to do to burn off the calories, the Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) has said.

 

The RSPH said “activity equivalent” calorie labelling should be displayed on the front of food and drinks packs.

Sample images of packaging issued by the society show pictures of stick men jogging, swimming and cycling, accompanied by the number of minutes it would take to burn off the calories contained.

A poll of more than 2,000 people for the RSPH found 63 per cent would back the changes.

Just over half of those polled said it would cause them to make positive behaviour changes such as choosing healthier products, eating smaller portions or doing more physical exercise.

The findings are included in a policy paper by RSPH which shows many people find current front-of-pack nutritional information confusing, with many people suffering from “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.”

Possible labelling would illustrate that a sugary soft drink would take 26 minutes to walk off; a blueberry muffin will be burnt off after almost an hour of walking and a chicken and bacon sandwich will take an hour and a half of walking to burn the calories.

As well as moderating excessive calorie consumption, it is hoped that ‘activity equivalent’ calorie labelling would help promote and normalise physical activity, which has a wide range of physical and mental health benefits beyond weight management alone.

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