By Kennedy Shelley
Sometimes we can change our behavior if we can “let the movie run forward.”
The idea is this, sometimes we want to take action based on what is in front of us, but if we step back and think about how things might develop if we do nothing, sometimes not getting involved is the right thing.
When I was getting my concealed carry license, my instructor warned me that if a crook has a gun on you, don’t try to draw yours right then, “wait your turn.”
When you run the movie forward, you realize that drawing too early will get you shot, so wait until you can do it without being detected.
Can the same idea be applied to food labeling?
For instance, in the British Medical Journal, scientists replaced the current food label with its calorie number and made it equivalent to running. They used the term PACE or Physical Activity Calorie Equivalent.
So, when you get a candy bar, it would tell you that you need to run 2 miles to burn these calories.
This is what British physician Dr. David Unwin did with his diabetic patients.
He noticed that they didn’t see how certain foods affected their blood sugar, so he created a graphic to show what was the equivalent of rice to a teaspoon of sugar. So, this is what it looked like:
This small change in how people viewed things made a huge difference in how people behaved.
The change in perspective made all the difference.
Using an equivalent mechanism for calories makes sense.
Since nearly 60% of America is overweight or obese and this extra weight contributes to almost every major cause of death, it is vitally important to figure out the best way to get people to take steps to get their weight down.
When people get that level of detail about their food choices, they can quickly decide if that candy bar is actually worth it. In short, they run the movie forward.
The study author notes:
“When a consumer sees a visual symbol that denotes it will take 4 hours to walk off a pizza and only 15 minutes to burn off a salad, this, in theory, should create an awareness of the ‘energy cost’ of food [and] drink.”
But the evidence is mixed as to what PACE symbols do you use.
In a 2018 study, they found that labels at restaurants didn’t make much of a difference.
But this study showed that when people were making purchasing decisions at the store, they chose an equivalent of 65 fewer calories per meal.
So, if their data holds true this would lead to a drop in 195 calories a day.
That is 71,175 calories a year less per person. If a pound of fat is approximately 4069 calories, then losing that many calories a year could have a significant effect on the obesity crisis.
Losing weight is not just a simple matter of calories in and calories out, but calories still count.
Giving people better tools to make better decisions makes sense for everyone.