Experts call for food labelling to get physical

New food labels depicting the amount of exercise needed to work off food and drink could improve public health, experts say.

An article in today’s British Medical Journal suggests that more than half of consumers would positively change their behaviour if ‘activity calories’ were printed on food packaging.

According to the article’s authors, exercise labelling would influence consumers to choose healthier products, eat smaller portions or do more physical activity.

Cancer Council Queensland spokesperson Katie Clift said many Queenslanders weren’t aware how much physical activity was needed to work off popular foods.

“Some Queenslanders may be shocked to learn that a quick snack like a cappuccino and muffin could take 20 minutes of running to burn off,” Ms Clift said.

“The concept of exercise-equivalent food labelling could play an important role in educating Queenslanders and helping us to lead healthier lives.

“It’s crucial that Queenslanders are aware of their energy intake, and how much physical activity they need to maintain a healthy weight.

“Unfortunately not enough Queenslanders are offsetting extra kilojoules from unhealthy food and drink choices with adequate exercise, resulting in skyrocketing rates of overweight and obesity.

“Regular exercise and a healthy low-sugar diet is key to maintaining health and happiness – we need to do all we can to ensure this is as easy as possible for all Australians.”

A medium sized caramel frappe could take 122 minutes of walking or 30 minutes of running to burn off.

A small tub of mixed berry yoghurt could take 25 minutes of running to burn off, and a regular hot chips could take more than 90 minutes of walking.

In March, Queensland Parliament passed new laws making it mandatory for food retailers to display the kilojoule contents of food and drinks on store menus.

The laws apply to fast-food chains, bakery chains, café chains and supermarkets with at least 20 outlets in Queensland or 50 outlets nationwide, and they have 12 months to comply.

More information about Cancer Council Queensland is available at or 13 11 20.


For more information or interviews, please contact:
Katie Clift,
Executive Manager,
Media and Spokesperson,
Cancer Council Queensland
Phone: (07) 3634 5372
Mobile: 0409 001 171