Health Group Pushes for Exercise Equivalent Information on Food Labels

May 21, 2016

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article. 

1. equivalent / ɪˈkwɪv ə lənt / (adj.) – having an equal value with something
Example: Running for thirty minutes is equivalent to roughly an hour of walking.

2. burn / bɜrn / (v.) – to consume as fuel
Example: Our body burns food to produce energy.

3. dietitian / ˌdaɪ ɪˈtɪʃ ən / (n.) – someone who specializes in nutrition and helps people make healthy food choices
Example: She consulted a dietitian to help her lose weight.

4. take (something) for granted / teɪk fərˈgræntɪd / (idiom) – to be careless in dealing with something
Example: She took the doctor’s advice for granted so her illness worsened.

5. in terms of / ɪnˈtɜrmz əv / (idiom) – as a way of measuring something
Example: She only thinks about food in terms of calories.


Read the text below.
A UK health organization wants equivalent exercises of food to be printed on labels.

The Royal Society of Public Health (RSPH) wants food labels to include small icons showing common physical activities, such as walking, running, biking, or swimming, and a number indicating how many minutes of the activity is needed to burn the food’s calories. For instance, a pizza box may be labeled with a “running” icon with the number 43. This means it would take 43 minutes of running to burn the calories gained from eating a slice of pizza.

The goal of the RSPH is to help people make healthier food choices by informing them how much exercise it would take to burn the calories from the food they eat. The organization’s chief executive Shirley Cramer said that more creative ways to inform and encourage people to fight obesity are needed. Statistics released by the World Health Organization revealed that in 2014, the cases of obesity worldwide doubled compared to figures during the 1980s.

The RSPH conducted a research on the introduction of the icons, and 63% of the people surveyed said that they would support it. The British Dietetic Association, an organization of British dietitians, also expressed its support for the RSPH’s campaign. Currently, the RSPH is calling on the UK government to require the use of the suggested icons on labels.

However, experts from the United States said that there is a need for more evidence of the labels’ effectiveness before they could be used. Some also fear that people might take the labels for granted by thinking of food only in terms of calories while disregarding all other nutritional information.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.  

Discussion A

·         Do you agree with the idea of putting exercise equivalents of food on food labels? Why or why not?
·         Do you think exercise equivalents in food labels will encourage people to exercise more? Why or why not?

Discussion B

·         What else would you like to see in food labels to help you know more about your food?
·         Aside from food labels, how else can people better understand the nutritional value of their food?

May 21, 2016