Believe it or not

Kilojoules and kilometres

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BION_36From Lose Friends Radio comes this ‘Believe it or not’ segment Number 36, called ‘Kilojoules and kilometres’. You can read the transcript below, or listen to the original broadcast by clicking on the green play button: [audio:Jonar_Nader_36_BION_Kilojoules_and_kilometres.mp3]
Believe it or not, according to Jonar Nader, many of the problems associated with obesity stem from a lack of education. Despite labelling laws and endless explanations about fat and sugar content, the average person still does not know what a kilojoule is, in practical terms.

A new labelling method is being proposed whereby consumers would swipe their user card or enter an ID number into a keypad located in the supermarkets. This ID informs the computer of the customer’s preferred method of calculating energy contents of a product. They would then scan the product, say a bar of chocolate, and wait for the computer to print a special label which the consumer attaches to the chocolate bar.

The label will give the consumer the kilojoule information in a way that makes it personally relevant to them. For example, those who play soccer would be told how many games they would need to play to burn off the energy or fat content in that item of confectionary. Those who enjoy walking may be advised that they to walk 5 kilometres. It may further explain that this distance is equivalent to a trip from their home address to the nearest post office and back.

The computer will customise the language, the location, and the activity advice to the individual’s age, weight, gender, as well as any special medical conditions that have been included in the user’s file.

People make better decisions when they have access to information which is personally relevant, and thus much more meaningful than joules per gram or some other abstract numbers and measurements.

It seems that food labelling is poised for radical change.

Believe it… or not.

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