Have you seen the latest Nutrition Facts research from Johns Hopkins University? Researchers wanted to test the effect of more blunt health messaging on drink purchase habits, so they added signs to the fridges of 6 Baltimore stores that explained how much exercise is needed in order to burn off the calories in the drinks that were offered in the fridge. The researchers collected 6 weeks’ worth of data and found that soda and other sugary drink purchases actually decreased when the signs were present. Their findings were published in the American Journal of Public Health.
So what does this mean for you as a health educator?
Well, the bottom line is that, with clearer messages about the health impact and calorie content of drinks, people will often make more balanced choices. After all, 40% of the people surveyed said that the signs prompted them to change their purchase. People just need to know more about what they’re drinking.
It’s easy to turn this information into a compelling presentation.
First, gather a few high-calorie beverages of your choice and research how much time people would need to spend on a physical activity in order to burn off the calories in a package of that drink. Use this calculator for a simple guide to over 80 different types of exercise and how many calories each burns per minute: https://foodandhealth.com/excalc.php.
Once you have your data, make it visual by turning it into a display or poster. For a poster, arrange photos or ads for your featured beverages alongside images of people exercising and your calculations for how long they need to exercise in order to burn off that beverage.
For a display, put your drinks on a table and place a folded card with the calorie count in front of each one. Then add a second card to each item, which details how long people have to be physically active in order to get rid of those calories.
Invite your audience in and walk them through the results of the study, the calories in each drink, and what people would need to do in order to burn off those calories. Answer any questions that arise and offer healthful alternative beverages that are lower in empty calories. A seltzer, herb, and fruit sampling bar is a fun way to end a session. It also offers your clients a chance to try new and healthful drinks.
Stephanie Ronco has been editing for Food and Health Communications since 2011. She graduated from Colorado College magna cum laude with distinction in Comparative Literature. She was elected a member of Phi Beta Kappa in 2008.