When you live in a country that is dark, cold and wet for 6 months of the year, it is very easy to put off proper exercise "until the weather gets better" - we have all done it! But what effect is this having on us as a population?
Obesity, and particularly Childhood Obesity, is becoming a serious problem in our society. Obesity brings disease - there is no doubt about it. Carrying too much weight put pressure on your vital organs; having too much weight at an early age makes it much more difficult to lose.
While we all like to think we make Healthy Food Choices; there are always the "treats". Be it pizza on Friday, or a glass of wine with dinner, or giving the kids a bar of chocolate after their dinner, it's bound to happen. And a lot of the time we think, "sure it's only one"; it can't hurt, right?
Well, taking a look at the exercise requirements below may change your mind!!
- 50g chocolate bar = 30 minutes of jogging
- Large fresh fruit juice = 60 minutes of fast walking
- Large skim caramel latte = 2 hours of housework
- 2 slices pizza = 90 minutes of cycling
- 6 crackers and 3 tablespoons pesto dip = Mowing the lawn
- 50g slice banana bread = 1 hour of vacuuming
- 50g packet deli chips = 1 hour of tennis
- Small hot chips = 30 minutes lap swimming
- Large glass white wine = 90 minutes of dancing
It takes a lot more exercise than we thought to burn off two slices of pizza!! How would you get a five year old to do that?
New legislation in Ireland will require calories to be listed on food menu's so that parents can make informed decisions about what they and their children should eat. While this is a welcome development, it is also important to be informed about calories.
Calories, being the energy value of the food that you eat, require activity to use them up. Unused energy is stored by the body as fat; in case you need it some day - waste not, want not! However, writing on a menu board in a fast food restaurant that the burger contains 1,300 kcal doesn't explain it.
The American Academy of Pediatrics are now thinking of introducing a "PACE" calorie system - Physical Activity Calorie Equivalent labeling. This would mean that beside the burger and chips, the sign will tell you that you need to do a 3 hour walk, or a 1 hour swift jog.
What do you think? Would converting calorie numbers into activity levels make a difference? Would it influence children to make healthier decisions? Could it help to educate the general public on what they are consuming?