The other night I was waiting for a friend to finish an evening class at the high school. There was nowhere to sit, so I strolled the halls a bit while I was waiting, perusing the various things posted on the walls. Among the homecoming and National Honor Society signs, there were several Think B4 You Eat posters. Each poster contained a comparison of two foods…one healthy choice, and one not so healthy choice. Each picture was accompanied by the number of calories in each food, and the amount of time doing a certain physical activity it would take to burn off those calories. I learned a lot that night.
My thoughts first turned to what a typical high-schooler might think of these posters. The healthy foods pictured looked appealing, so I figure some might choose to go healthier next time they are faced with a choice of what to eat. The difference in the amount of exercise required to burn off the calories was striking, so that may make an impression on some. I started to think that these lovely posters might be somewhat effective, but then it dawned on me that the choices in the vending machine that was just around the corner from these posters likely did not contain those healthy 2 cups of popcorn, but rather the bag of chips that took 20 times the exercise to work off.
Kids don’t always have healthy choices available, and the unhealthy foods that are available to them are also usually cheaper and quicker than the healthier choices. You can get a burger at the drive-thru, but making a nice turkey sandwich with fresh lettuce, tomato and whole grain bread will take you longer and cost more in the long run. So, maybe the posters might not be quite so effective.
As for me, I had to chuckle. As I studied the first poster, I learned that if I ate that bag of chips, it would take me 2 and a half hours of stair climbing to work off those 900 calories. But if I chose the 2 cups of popcorn, it would only take me 7 minutes of stair climbing. What made me chuckle was that I’m in such bad shape that I’d never even make the 7 minute climb! Heck, just climbing the stairs once to go to bed sometimes seems to take 7 minutes! I also learned I’m doomed!
The next poster compared fried chicken strips to 3 bites of grilled chicken with 3 small pepper rings and a sprinkle of parsley. The fried option would require 1 hour and 15 minutes of swimming to work off the 585 calories. The little grilled bits would only take 20 minutes of swimming to do away with the 160 calories, but there’s also the fact that a basket of chicken strips is way more food than 3 bites of chicken with some garnish. I’m not sure 3 bites of chicken is going to fill me up, and it certainly wouldn’t fill up a teenager. And, again, for me, I don’t even know if I could swim the 20 minutes for the healthy choice. And that 20 minute swim doesn’t include the rest of the food you ate all day! Definitely doomed!