Study on physical activity calorie equivalent labeling

An interesting study on potential effect of physical activity calorie equivalent labeling on parent fast food decisions was recently published by Anthony J. Viera, MD, MPH and Ray Antonelli on the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Here below you can find the abstract:

OBJECTIVES: Menu labels displaying food energy in physical activity calorie equivalents (PACE) is a possible strategy to encourage ordering meals with fewer calories and promoting physical activity. Potential effects of such labeling for children have never been examined.

METHODS: We conducted a national survey of 1000 parents randomized to 1 of 4 fast food menus: no labels, calories only, calories plus minutes, or calories plus miles needed to walk to burn the calories. Respondents were asked to imagine they were in a fast food restaurant and place an order for their child. At the survey’s conclusion, all respondents were shown a calorie-only label and both PACE labels and asked to rate the likelihood each label would influence them to encourage their child to exercise.

RESULTS: We excluded respondents whose meals totaled 0 calories or .4000 calories, leaving 823 parents in the analysis. The mean age of the child for whom the meal was “ordered” was 9.5 years. Parents whose menus displayed no label ordered an average of 1294 calories, whereas those shown calories only, calories plus minutes, or calories plus miles ordered 1066, 1060, and 1099 calories, respectively (P = .0001). Only 20% of parents reported that calories only labeling would be “very likely” to prompt them to encourage their children to exercise versus 38% for calories plus minutes (P , .0001) and 37% for calories plus miles (P , .0001).

CONCLUSIONS: PACE labeling may influence parents’ decisions on what fast food items to order for their children and encourage them to get their children to exercise.

Written Q&A to EU Commission – Obesity

Question for written answer E-005600/12 to the Commission

David Casa (PPE)
(4 June 2012)

Subject: Obesity

According to recent statistics from Eurostat, the number of EU citizens who are overweight or obese has increasedat an alarming rate over the past decade. As a result, over 50 % of the EU population is currently overweight or obese.
In its White Paper on a Strategy for Europe on Nutrition, Overweight and Obesity related health issues (COM(2007) 0279), the Commission sets out an integrated approach towards addressing nutrition and weightrelated health problems.
In view of the increasing relevance of these issues, is the Commission planning to introduce any further measures aimed at reducing obesity rates in the EU?

Answer given by Mr Dalli on behalf of the Commission
(17 August 2012)

The European Commission is aware of the obesity and overweight levels in the European Union.
The Commission monitors the implementation of the ‘Strategy for Europe on Nutrition, Overweight and Obesityrelated Health Issues’ (1) in close cooperation with WHO Europe. Progress by individual Member States can be examined via the European Database on Nutrition, Obesity and Physical Activity (NOPA) (2).
The strategy is implemented through Commission initiatives as well as cooperation among Member States in the High Level Group (3) on Nutrition and Physical Activity, and through voluntary initiatives taken by multi-sectoral stakeholders in the EU Platform for Action on Diet, Physical Activity and Health (4).

Such initiatives range from promoting healthy eating and physical activity to reducing salt and other nutrients content from food, and by making
nutritional food labelling obligatory. A first Progress Report was published in December 2010 (5).

Increasing the availability of healthy options through food reformulation initiatives and scaling up and speeding up the self-regulatory initiatives in food marketing and
advertising to children are identified areas for action in the second phase of the strategy. The Commission haslaunched this year the evaluation process of the strategy which will be available during the first quarter of 2013.
⋅1∙ COM(2007)279 final, 30.5.2007.
⋅2∙ http://data.euro.who.int/nopa/
⋅3∙ http://ec.europa.eu/health/nutrition_physical_activity/high_level_group/index_en.htm
⋅4∙ http://ec.europa.eu/health/nutrition_physical_activity/platform/index_en.htm
⋅5∙ http://ec.europa.eu/health/nutrition_physical_activity/docs/implementation_report_en.pdf