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Activity-equivalent calorie labelling

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  • lemurcat12lemurcat12 Posts: 30,886Member Member Posts: 30,886Member Member
    moe0303 wrote: »
    moe0303 wrote: »
    At first, I was like "Pftt, that's stupid", but the more I think about it, I can see it as being useful."

    The main thing counting calories taught me is that I have an energy budget, just like a money one. I can "spend" all my calories on salt and vinegar chips if I want to, I can do that and lose weight even, it just means I'll be hungry. Or I can "spend" my calories more wisely and not deal with hunger. It's my choice. Of course I'll make a better choice if I have better information available to me. I think about snacks in terms of how they'll affect my calorie budget now, and also in terms of what exercise I have to do to clear the books, and decide if a snack is worth it.

    I do all this because I took the time to learn how. Ultimately I feel it's my responsibility to do right for myself, and on that note I trust my own calorie figures more than I'd trust these labels. But we're going through an obesity epidemic and obesity-related ailments cost our public health system more than smoking-related ones. Desperate times call for desperate measures; not that making information available to people is really a desperate measure. Ultimately I'd prefer to live in a world with more healthy people and more labels, instead of a world with more unhealthy people and more corporate freedom.

    False dichotomy. I agree packages should be labelled, but the rise of the obesity epidemic correlates with the rise of mandatory nutritional labeling in the US, which started in 1990. We all know correlation is not causation, but obviously the labels aren't helping anyone but the select few who are being careful about what they eat and still eating processed/packaged foods. Petty bureaucrats can bustle about all day and add bold print to this and fine print to that, and shove in a bunch of icons, and it will have zero effect. People don't care. If you want to have an effect, and put out a clear message about the scandalous number of calories in things, it would be smarter to use the slick, glossy and attention-grabbing propaganda tools that are being used to promote the packaged food in the first place.

    Ultimately I would prefer to live in a world where people used their free and very expensive educations (that my tax dollars helped pay for) to make healthy choices so I don't have to pay again for their medical care. I would also like this work to have flying rainbow unicorns being ridden by kittens with glittery whiskers.
    That would never happen. Kittens are far too inexperienced to handle a full grown flying rainbow unicorn. Also, kittens turn into cats and cats are the devil.

    Kitten vs. unicorn:

  • JeepHair77JeepHair77 Posts: 1,291Member Member Posts: 1,291Member Member
    I actually WANT to like this idea. Making the numbers meaningful seems like a great idea.

    But it's just not possible to do that accurately. And coupled with the already widely-misunderstood serving size issue, well, it just turns into one MORE number on the package, that's only as meaningful as you make it.

    But in a sort of abstract way, I applaud the guys who are thinking of this.
  • RoxieDawnRoxieDawn Posts: 15,518Member, Premium Member Posts: 15,518Member, Premium Member
    lemurcat12 wrote: »
    moe0303 wrote: »
    moe0303 wrote: »
    At first, I was like "Pftt, that's stupid", but the more I think about it, I can see it as being useful."

    The main thing counting calories taught me is that I have an energy budget, just like a money one. I can "spend" all my calories on salt and vinegar chips if I want to, I can do that and lose weight even, it just means I'll be hungry. Or I can "spend" my calories more wisely and not deal with hunger. It's my choice. Of course I'll make a better choice if I have better information available to me. I think about snacks in terms of how they'll affect my calorie budget now, and also in terms of what exercise I have to do to clear the books, and decide if a snack is worth it.

    I do all this because I took the time to learn how. Ultimately I feel it's my responsibility to do right for myself, and on that note I trust my own calorie figures more than I'd trust these labels. But we're going through an obesity epidemic and obesity-related ailments cost our public health system more than smoking-related ones. Desperate times call for desperate measures; not that making information available to people is really a desperate measure. Ultimately I'd prefer to live in a world with more healthy people and more labels, instead of a world with more unhealthy people and more corporate freedom.

    False dichotomy. I agree packages should be labelled, but the rise of the obesity epidemic correlates with the rise of mandatory nutritional labeling in the US, which started in 1990. We all know correlation is not causation, but obviously the labels aren't helping anyone but the select few who are being careful about what they eat and still eating processed/packaged foods. Petty bureaucrats can bustle about all day and add bold print to this and fine print to that, and shove in a bunch of icons, and it will have zero effect. People don't care. If you want to have an effect, and put out a clear message about the scandalous number of calories in things, it would be smarter to use the slick, glossy and attention-grabbing propaganda tools that are being used to promote the packaged food in the first place.

    Ultimately I would prefer to live in a world where people used their free and very expensive educations (that my tax dollars helped pay for) to make healthy choices so I don't have to pay again for their medical care. I would also like this work to have flying rainbow unicorns being ridden by kittens with glittery whiskers.
    That would never happen. Kittens are far too inexperienced to handle a full grown flying rainbow unicorn. Also, kittens turn into cats and cats are the devil.

    Kitten vs. unicorn:


    Love me cat gifs... This cat may grow to be the devil or not.. I already have a devil in my home so I got dibs.


    edited April 2016
  • AlabasterVerveAlabasterVerve Posts: 3,138Member Member Posts: 3,138Member Member
    lemurcat12 wrote: »
    I don't think "the labels are only helping people who are being helped by the labels" is a very good argument against making information available to people who could benefit from having it.

    I must have missed it, but I haven't noticed anyone arguing against making information available.

    I am against providing people with information that is not accurate or confusing, which is one of the issues when deciding what labeling to provide -- there are so many things that could be disclosed that it could end up making the disclosures unhelpful, so choices need to be made, including how to display the information.

    For example, a lot of people seem to think that a package of two largish cookies is labeled 2 servings (this is hypothetical) because the manufacturer is trying to be tricky. The truth is that the US gov't requires it, because the gov't's current position is that is better to educate people on what an appropriate serving size is than to help normalize overly large serving sizes, even if many people are likely eating the whole package and may misread the label (although I personally have very little patience with the argument that the current labels are too hard to understand -- serving size 2 isn't that complicated, although 3.5 as on some canned tomatoes is kind of annoying). On this particular question I can see both sides and think both are reasonable positions (I'm inclined to the gov't POV, but wouldn't care much if the policy changed).

    Anyway, I don't like the exercise on the label idea -- I think there are better ways the labeling could be changed -- but it wouldn't upset me or anything if it were added.

    That's not the "truth" or at least not the whole truth. The labeling requirements are a convoluted mess with a lot of wiggle room for the manufacturer to skew the label in their best interests. For example, a can of cooking spray can be labeled as having six hundred servings per can and zero calories - which is of course absurd and not required by law but a loophole they're happy to exploit.

    FDA Labeling & Nutrition

  • snikkinssnikkins Posts: 1,282Member Member Posts: 1,282Member Member
    I think it's an interesting idea, but I think it would only really help people who are already helping themselves, as is the case with the nutritional information in the first place.

    I do know, though, that it was super depressing when I first started running. I thought I was working so hard and burning so many calories and, well, nope. So, it might be able to put exercise into perspective for some people.
  • RoxieDawnRoxieDawn Posts: 15,518Member, Premium Member Posts: 15,518Member, Premium Member
    I think it would end up being just another way to market junk food and will do nothing to help people manage their weight.

    I'd much rather they require the calories be given for a 100g (regardless of the typical serving size) and for the entire package and do away with serving sizes altogether -- that's much more useful for those counting calories, IMO. And as a bonus the information can't be manipulated.

    But the idea is not to reach out to those already counting calories... I would not be their target audience..

    [edited to add: When available on a product package, I already use the "Calories" image on the front and if I choose to, will read the entire nutritional label.. so this activity image would not do anything for me per se..]
    edited April 2016
  • cwolfman13cwolfman13 Posts: 37,045Member Member Posts: 37,045Member Member
    I think it could be miss-informative in that it basically assumes a tit for tat...eat this and then go do this...it doesn't assume or acknowledge that you burn a crap ton of calories just being alive...it would leave to impression for many that they needed to actually go work off anything they actually ate and that's not true.

  • lemurcat12lemurcat12 Posts: 30,886Member Member Posts: 30,886Member Member
    lemurcat12 wrote: »
    I don't think "the labels are only helping people who are being helped by the labels" is a very good argument against making information available to people who could benefit from having it.

    I must have missed it, but I haven't noticed anyone arguing against making information available.

    I am against providing people with information that is not accurate or confusing, which is one of the issues when deciding what labeling to provide -- there are so many things that could be disclosed that it could end up making the disclosures unhelpful, so choices need to be made, including how to display the information.

    For example, a lot of people seem to think that a package of two largish cookies is labeled 2 servings (this is hypothetical) because the manufacturer is trying to be tricky. The truth is that the US gov't requires it, because the gov't's current position is that is better to educate people on what an appropriate serving size is than to help normalize overly large serving sizes, even if many people are likely eating the whole package and may misread the label (although I personally have very little patience with the argument that the current labels are too hard to understand -- serving size 2 isn't that complicated, although 3.5 as on some canned tomatoes is kind of annoying). On this particular question I can see both sides and think both are reasonable positions (I'm inclined to the gov't POV, but wouldn't care much if the policy changed).

    Anyway, I don't like the exercise on the label idea -- I think there are better ways the labeling could be changed -- but it wouldn't upset me or anything if it were added.

    That's not the "truth" or at least not the whole truth. The labeling requirements are a convoluted mess with a lot of wiggle room for the manufacturer to skew the label in their best interests. For example, a can of cooking spray can be labeled as having six hundred servings per can and zero calories - which is of course absurd and not required by law but a loophole they're happy to exploit.

    FDA Labeling & Nutrition

    Most of the things people complain about like the cookies ARE because of the gov't-defined serving sizes. But the broader point is that I don't think it's really a good idea to call a 20 oz soda a serving (which manufacturers could do, under current law, but choose not to), because it's messed up that we think that's a serving. I'd rather tell people it's 2 or 2.5 servings and let them make the decision to consume twice or more of a serving size. I don't think the math is that tough or the label that confusing (and if it is the issue is inadequate education, period).

    But like I said, I can see your side too, even if I disagree, and I think it's a reasonable position.

    jmbmilholland suggested upthread that the better option would be to make calories and servings more prominent, and I think that would maybe satisfy both of us. If the cookies (or the soda) said in big letters on the front 2 servings, XXX calories per serving, it would be hard to deny what they were.

    (I still think most people not actively watching their weight would ignore them. Like I've said before, I used to buy a cookie at a local place that said "350 calories" (a crazy amount) right next to the cookie at the register, and I would simply avoid thinking about it.)
    edited April 2016
  • AlabasterVerveAlabasterVerve Posts: 3,138Member Member Posts: 3,138Member Member
    RoxieDawn wrote: »
    I think it would end up being just another way to market junk food and will do nothing to help people manage their weight.

    I'd much rather they require the calories be given for a 100g (regardless of the typical serving size) and for the entire package and do away with serving sizes altogether -- that's much more useful for those counting calories, IMO. And as a bonus the information can't be manipulated.

    But the idea is not to reach out to those already counting calories... I would not be their target audience..

    I think this proposal would be just as ineffective as the current labeling laws that do nothing to curb obesity or improve the quality of peoples diets. In my opinion, their only use is for those already heath conscious which is why I think providing clear information that can't be manipulated is the only change I can see being of any use to the consumer.

    Unless it's removing all marketing from the packaging like some countries do with cigarettes -- that would reduce calories consumed I imagine.
  • AlabasterVerveAlabasterVerve Posts: 3,138Member Member Posts: 3,138Member Member
    lemurcat12 wrote: »
    lemurcat12 wrote: »
    I don't think "the labels are only helping people who are being helped by the labels" is a very good argument against making information available to people who could benefit from having it.

    I must have missed it, but I haven't noticed anyone arguing against making information available.

    I am against providing people with information that is not accurate or confusing, which is one of the issues when deciding what labeling to provide -- there are so many things that could be disclosed that it could end up making the disclosures unhelpful, so choices need to be made, including how to display the information.

    For example, a lot of people seem to think that a package of two largish cookies is labeled 2 servings (this is hypothetical) because the manufacturer is trying to be tricky. The truth is that the US gov't requires it, because the gov't's current position is that is better to educate people on what an appropriate serving size is than to help normalize overly large serving sizes, even if many people are likely eating the whole package and may misread the label (although I personally have very little patience with the argument that the current labels are too hard to understand -- serving size 2 isn't that complicated, although 3.5 as on some canned tomatoes is kind of annoying). On this particular question I can see both sides and think both are reasonable positions (I'm inclined to the gov't POV, but wouldn't care much if the policy changed).

    Anyway, I don't like the exercise on the label idea -- I think there are better ways the labeling could be changed -- but it wouldn't upset me or anything if it were added.

    That's not the "truth" or at least not the whole truth. The labeling requirements are a convoluted mess with a lot of wiggle room for the manufacturer to skew the label in their best interests. For example, a can of cooking spray can be labeled as having six hundred servings per can and zero calories - which is of course absurd and not required by law but a loophole they're happy to exploit.

    FDA Labeling & Nutrition

    Most of the things people complain about like the cookies ARE because of the gov't-defined serving sizes. But the broader point is that I don't think it's really a good idea to call a 20 oz soda a serving (which manufacturers could do, under current law, but choose not to), because it's messed up that we think that's a serving. I'd rather tell people it's 2 or 2.5 servings and let them make the decision to consume twice or more of a serving size. I don't think the math is that tough or the label that confusing (and if it is the issue is inadequate education, period).

    But like I said, I can see your side too, even if I disagree, and I think it's a reasonable position.

    I don't believe that to be true.

    If the single unit weighs 200% or more of the RACC, there are two options. The serving size can either be declared as one unit if the entire unit can reasonably be eaten on one occasion or can be declared as a portion of the unit. For example, the RACC for candy bars is 40 g, and 200% of the RACC is 80 g. For a 90 g candy bar, the serving size could be either “1 candy bar (90 g)” or “½ candy bar (45 g).” FDA also provides additional specific provisions for (1) products (such as pickles) that naturally vary in size 21 CFR 101.9(b)(8)(ii); (2) products made up of two or more foods, ackaged and intended to be consumed together 21 CFR 101.9(b)(5)(vii); and (3) products containing several, fully labeled, single serving units. 21 FR 101.9(b)(5)(iv)

    Edited to add the bolded portion is what I was replying to before your edit. I was disagreeing that manufacturers had to label a largeish package of cookies as multiple servings but I can see you agree it's a decision manufacturers make and not a government requirement.
    edited April 2016
  • RoxieDawnRoxieDawn Posts: 15,518Member, Premium Member Posts: 15,518Member, Premium Member
    RoxieDawn wrote: »
    I think it would end up being just another way to market junk food and will do nothing to help people manage their weight.

    I'd much rather they require the calories be given for a 100g (regardless of the typical serving size) and for the entire package and do away with serving sizes altogether -- that's much more useful for those counting calories, IMO. And as a bonus the information can't be manipulated.

    But the idea is not to reach out to those already counting calories... I would not be their target audience..

    I think this proposal would be just as ineffective as the current labeling laws that do nothing to curb obesity or improve the quality of peoples diets. In my opinion, their only use is for those already heath conscious which is why I think providing clear information that can't be manipulated is the only change I can see being of any use to the consumer.

    Unless it's removing all marketing from the packaging like some countries do with cigarettes -- that would reduce calories consumed I imagine.

    I do agree the labels are already helping those that help themselves.

    I still would not be the target audience that they wish to reach out to, and in the end this may be all about the almighty dollar to everyone that has their hand in this.. So who cares who they reach? is what I ask my self..

    Can't do away with the labels all together this would hurt my calorie counting abilities..
    edited April 2016
  • lemurcat12lemurcat12 Posts: 30,886Member Member Posts: 30,886Member Member
    lemurcat12 wrote: »
    lemurcat12 wrote: »
    I don't think "the labels are only helping people who are being helped by the labels" is a very good argument against making information available to people who could benefit from having it.

    I must have missed it, but I haven't noticed anyone arguing against making information available.

    I am against providing people with information that is not accurate or confusing, which is one of the issues when deciding what labeling to provide -- there are so many things that could be disclosed that it could end up making the disclosures unhelpful, so choices need to be made, including how to display the information.

    For example, a lot of people seem to think that a package of two largish cookies is labeled 2 servings (this is hypothetical) because the manufacturer is trying to be tricky. The truth is that the US gov't requires it, because the gov't's current position is that is better to educate people on what an appropriate serving size is than to help normalize overly large serving sizes, even if many people are likely eating the whole package and may misread the label (although I personally have very little patience with the argument that the current labels are too hard to understand -- serving size 2 isn't that complicated, although 3.5 as on some canned tomatoes is kind of annoying). On this particular question I can see both sides and think both are reasonable positions (I'm inclined to the gov't POV, but wouldn't care much if the policy changed).

    Anyway, I don't like the exercise on the label idea -- I think there are better ways the labeling could be changed -- but it wouldn't upset me or anything if it were added.

    That's not the "truth" or at least not the whole truth. The labeling requirements are a convoluted mess with a lot of wiggle room for the manufacturer to skew the label in their best interests. For example, a can of cooking spray can be labeled as having six hundred servings per can and zero calories - which is of course absurd and not required by law but a loophole they're happy to exploit.

    FDA Labeling & Nutrition

    Most of the things people complain about like the cookies ARE because of the gov't-defined serving sizes. But the broader point is that I don't think it's really a good idea to call a 20 oz soda a serving (which manufacturers could do, under current law, but choose not to), because it's messed up that we think that's a serving. I'd rather tell people it's 2 or 2.5 servings and let them make the decision to consume twice or more of a serving size. I don't think the math is that tough or the label that confusing (and if it is the issue is inadequate education, period).

    But like I said, I can see your side too, even if I disagree, and I think it's a reasonable position.

    I don't believe that to be true.

    If the single unit weighs 200% or more of the RACC, there are two options. The serving size can either be declared as one unit if the entire unit can reasonably be eaten on one occasion or can be declared as a portion of the unit. For example, the RACC for candy bars is 40 g, and 200% of the RACC is 80 g. For a 90 g candy bar, the serving size could be either “1 candy bar (90 g)” or “½ candy bar (45 g).” FDA also provides additional specific provisions for (1) products (such as pickles) that naturally vary in size 21 CFR 101.9(b)(8)(ii); (2) products made up of two or more foods, ackaged and intended to be consumed together 21 CFR 101.9(b)(5)(vii); and (3) products containing several, fully labeled, single serving units. 21 FR 101.9(b)(5)(iv)

    Here it is: http://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/cdrh/cfdocs/cfcfr/cfrsearch.cfm?fr=101.9

    How I'm reading it is for something like a giant muffin can = 1, even if way above the normal serving size (which is what I typically see, but I don't look at packaged muffins much, admittedly). However, the manufacturer has freedom to choose (I had thought for these it had to be labeled as 1, so I was wrong about that). But if you have 2 cookies packaged together the cookies should be labeled separately. If you have something like a loaf of bread, a pie, a frozen pizza, it will be based on the defined size. Package of rice and beans, same. Cottage cheese, same.

    There was some complaint here a while back and I looked up the relevant regs, and for that one it was required by fed law, but I forget the specifics.
    edited April 2016
  • RoxieDawnRoxieDawn Posts: 15,518Member, Premium Member Posts: 15,518Member, Premium Member
    The packaging is screwy and will mess with the person who does not know there is more than one serving in the package...

    For example, I used to be the one that bought a 6 pack of peanut butter crackers (Lance or Frito Lay for example) out of the vending machine and thought it was 1 serving. Come to find out years later, the serving size is 4 crackers. So why package 6 crackers instead of 4? What in the heck am I going to do with 2 crackers left over? LOL
    edited April 2016
  • chocolate_owlchocolate_owl Posts: 1,431Member Member Posts: 1,431Member Member
    I think you'd see the same thing you see with restaurants posting calories - people will still eat what they want to eat, and calorie/activity information won't change that. An person who isn't watching what they eat will dismiss the activity because they don't care. A person trying to lose weight on a diet plan will be opting for foods that fit their plan, which with the paleo/clean eating trends are primarily foods not in packages. And a person losing weight by tracking calories will look at the calorie profile. I see the biggest impact on the group that needs it the least: people with or on the path to eating disorders. Instead of viewing food as neutral or as fuel, the activity label will be perceived as a warning: "If you eat this, you have to run for 20 minutes." It will incite a lot of guilt and unhealthy behavior instead of promoting healthy choices.
  • French_PeasantFrench_Peasant Posts: 1,631Member Member Posts: 1,631Member Member
    RoxieDawn wrote: »
    The packaging is screwy and will mess with the person who does not know there is more than one serving in the package...

    For example, I used to be the one that bought a 6 pack of peanut butter crackers (Lance or Frito Lay for example) out of the vending machine and thought it was 1 serving. Come to find out years later, the serving size is 4 crackers. So why package 6 crackers instead of 4? What in the heck am I going to do with 2 crackers left over? LOL

    Or the bag of Turtle Chex Mix that looks like a good serving, but come to find out a serving is 1/2 cup and there are 4.5 or so servings in the bag? I am sorry, 1/2 cup of Chex Mix is NOT a serving. Nor are 3 oreos. Calories make me angry sometimes. *shakes fist*
  • zcb94zcb94 Posts: 4,191Member Member Posts: 4,191Member Member
    I think it'd be an eye opener for most consumers, but do agree with those who have pointed out that the burn may vary depending (basically) on who you are, and that not all daily activities are represented (for example, cleaning is an overlooked exercise that makes a big dent in my calorie intake, but may not matter to tall and thin Joe Smoe if his house is easier to maintain). YMMV, for sure.
  • tomtebodatomteboda Posts: 2,176Member Member Posts: 2,176Member Member
    Calories consumed are virtually uniform for all people. Calories burned are not. I think it's a terrible idea. Maybe do major public awareness campaigns about calories and exercise but labeling the food that way strikes me as terrible.
  • moe0303moe0303 Posts: 933Member Member Posts: 933Member Member
    tomteboda wrote: »
    Calories consumed are virtually uniform for all people. Calories burned are not. I think it's a terrible idea. Maybe do major public awareness campaigns about calories and exercise but labeling the food that way strikes me as terrible.
    Do you mean calories required? I'm pretty sure that the consumption will vary as much as the differences in body fat.

    I go back and forth. I said earlier that they should base the numbers off of obese individuals, but if they kept it at a 170 pound, they would actually over estimate a little bit. So while it may not be accurate, the worst that could happen is that they are encouraged to burn a little bit more than they need.
  • lemurcat12lemurcat12 Posts: 30,886Member Member Posts: 30,886Member Member
    170 lbs would make people of my size think they could burn things off far more easily than the reality. Heck, the usual rough estimate of running cals is based on 150 lbs, and I consistently have to remind myself it's less for me.
  • moe0303moe0303 Posts: 933Member Member Posts: 933Member Member
    lemurcat12 wrote: »
    170 lbs would make people of my size think they could burn things off far more easily than the reality. Heck, the usual rough estimate of running cals is based on 150 lbs, and I consistently have to remind myself it's less for me.
    Yeah, but how long would it be until people of your size realized that the numbers are a little less for them? Or, how long until they decide to just ignore the icon? The percentages are currently based off of a 2000 calorie diet, which I suspect would also be off for smaller (or larger) people.
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