'You can't outrun a bad diet' - dieticians skeptical of activity labels

Dieticians do not think exercise equivalents on food labels will help Kiwis make better food choices.

Britain researchers want food labels to illustrate how much exercise is needed to burn the calories we consume. Source: 1 NEWS

Britain's Royal Society for Public Health wants food packaging to display activity icons that show how many minutes of exercise is needed to burn the calories in the food.

For example a can of fizzy drink would take 13 minutes to run off, or double that to walk off.

"We need to use all sorts of different techniques and try different things to make people consider their choices of food", says Shirley Cramer the Chief Executive of the British Royal Society for Public Health.

Dieticians here say it might help people understand more clearly what is in their food but "you can't out-run a bad diet," says AUT Professor of Public Health Grant Schofield.

"We've become focused on putting labels on food, on convincing people that they're healthy and they should choose this over that, but I just think that hasn't worked out in the end," he says.

"We want to be concentrating on actual food. Healthy food, remember, doesn't come in a packet."

New Zealand introduced a voluntary "health star" rating for food labels last year where food with more stars have better nutritional value.

Food Safety minster Jo Goodhew says "Health Star Ratings are encouraging manufacturers to reformulate their products to improve their 'star rating' which leads to healthier products being available to consumers."