6 Minute English
Have you walked off your pizza?
Episode 160818 / 18 Aug 2016
Is food labelling clear enough to help us make healthy choices? – Especially when on average we spend only six seconds making those choices in the supermarket. Alice and Neil discuss pizza and chocolate chip muffins along with some other tasty vocabulary.
This week's question
How long would you have to walk to burn off the calories in a quarter of a large pizza? Is it…
a) 33 minutes?
b) 53 minutes?
c) 83 minutes?
You'll hear the answer at the end of the programme.
made on an understanding of the facts
see at a glance
understand something immediately
think carefully about doing something before you do it
strategy; something you use to accomplish a task
Note: This is not a word-for-word transcript.
Hello and welcome to 6 Minute English. I'm Alice…
And I'm Neil.
What are you eating, Neil?
It's a chocolate chip muffin.
How many calories do you think it contains?
I have no idea.
Check the packet.
It's hard to find the calorie content amongst all the other information here. Ah, here we go: 450.
That's a lot! Are you sure you should be eating that?
Why not? I expect I cycled off quite a few calories on the way to work.
Well, that depends on the length of your journey and how much energy you expended – or used up. Now, on today's show we're talking about food and the exercise it takes to burn off calories. And I have a question for you, Neil: How long would you have to walk to burn off the calories in a quarter of a large pizza? Is it…
a) 33 minutes?
b) 53 minutes?
c) 83 minutes?
I'll go for a) 33 minutes. That sounds quite enough considering if you ate the whole pizza it would mean walking for 132 minutes to burn off – or use – the calories. And that's over two hours!
Well, we'll find out later on whether you got the answer right or not, Neil. But be warned – people are bad at estimating how many calories there are in food. Now, the Royal Society for Public Health here in the UK is concerned that people don't read the information on food packaging because the text is so dense – it means, tightly packed.
Well, I never look at food labelling when I'm shopping for food. How about you, Alice?
Well, personally, I like to make an informed choice about what I put in my body, Neil! And informed means based on an understanding of the facts. So I spend a lot of time reading the packaging. And I think the current traffic lights are a great idea.
Traffic lights? What are you talking about?
It's where food content is colour-coded red, orange or green – like traffic lights – depending on its percentage of fat, sugar, and salt. So you can see at a glance which pizza on the supermarket shelf is better for you. This helps the consumer to make an informed choice.
To see at a glance means to understand something immediately. Well, my informed choice is based on which pizza has the most pepperoni on it. I had no idea food companies were putting traffic lights on their food packaging!
Yes, and that's not all, Neil. There are now plans to put an icon – or simple picture – of someone running plus the time it would take to burn off the calories contained in a particular food item on the front of packaging. Let's hear what some consumers on the streets of London thought about this idea.
People in London
MAN: I would think twice about buying crisps if I have to run 19 minutes just to burn the calories I ate.
WOMAN: I'd either consider working out those 19 minutes or not eating the crisps at all.
Two people who would think twice about whether to buy crisps if they knew how long it would take to burn off the calories.
And think twice means to think carefully about doing something before you do it. But, to be honest, I want freedom to do what I feel like. Even if they put a label on the food I think I'd exercise if I wanted to exercise, but I think I'd still have a packet of crisps if I wanted a packet of crisps.
That's fine so long as you are clear about how active you need to be to eat what you do and not put on weight.
But a healthy diet isn't just about calories is it? I wouldn't need to cycle to work to burn off a diet cola, but drinking a fresh orange juice would be a healthier choice – even though it contains more calories.
Well, that's a good point. Let's listen now to Shirley Cramer, Chief Executive at the Royal Society for Public Health, talking about why she thinks the new labelling is necessary.
Shirley Cramer, Chief Executive, Royal Society for Public Health
We've got 60% of the UK population either overweight or obese. We have a very, very urgent problem. We have a growing population, literally, and we need to have a lot of tools in our toolbox, a lot of new strategies, I think, in order to support people to make good choices.
Shirley Cramer of the Royal Society of Public Health. So, she says we need lots of tools – or strategies –to help tackle obesity in the UK. And linking energy content in food to physical activity is just one tool in the toolbox, so to speak.
Indeed. Now, I think it's time for the answer to today's quiz question, Neil. I asked you: How long would you have to walk to burn off the calories in a quarter of a large pizza? Is it… a) 33 minutes? b) 53 minutes? Or c) 83 minutes?
And I said a) 33 minutes.
And you underestimated, I'm afraid, Neil! The answer is c) 83 minutes. This figures comes from Shirley Cramer, Chief Executive of the Royal Society for Public Health. Writing in the British Medical Journal, she argues that food should be labelled with the equivalent exercise needed to burn off its calories. This would give consumers an immediate link between food's energy content and physical activity that might help to reduce obesity.
Note, Alice, that I've put my muffin to one side. You've convinced me to eat more healthily and I'll be eating a green salad for lunch.
I'll believe that when I see it, Neil.
OK, here are the words we learned today:
see at a glance
Well, that's the end of this edition of 6 Minute English. Join us again soon. Meanwhile visit our website bbclearningenglish.com, where you'll find guides to grammar, exercises videos and articles to read and improve your English.
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About 37,000 tourists are expected to visit Antarctica this season. But should they be going to a region with such a sensitive environment? Listen to Rob and Neil’s conversation and learn some new vocabulary.
Episode 150205 / 05 Feb 2015
At a time when more people compete for fewer jobs, are you sure you present your skills and abilities well to a potential employer? Listen to Rob and Neil's conversation and learn some related vocabulary.
Episode 150129 / 29 Jan 2015
Going to a party where you don't know anyone? Listen to Rob and Neil's advice and learn some related vocabulary
Episode 150122 / 22 Jan 2015
We use computers for everything nowadays. Are we forgetting our own abilities - and losing our talent? Listen to Rob and Neil's discussion, and learn some related vocabulary
Episode 150115 / 15 Jan 2015
Smoking in cars with children might be banned in England. Listen to Neil and Rob's chat and learn some related vocabulary
Episode 150108 / 08 Jan 2015
Is bullying just an attempt to give a bad name to what is part of human nature? Listen to Rob and Neil’s chat and learn some related vocabulary.
Episode 150101 / 01 Jan 2015
What would you put in your time capsule? Listen to Rob and Neil’s chat and learn new vocabulary
Episode 141225 / 25 Dec 2014
When enemy soldiers sang together in WW1. Listen to Rob and Finn’s chat and learn some related vocabulary.
Episode 141218 / 18 Dec 2014
The London school where students speak 42 different languages
Episode 141211 / 11 Dec 2014
Laughter isn't always the best medicine, says research
Episode 141204 / 04 Dec 2014
Are your pictures, documents and videos safe online? Listen to Rob and Finn's chat and learn new vocabulary
Episode 141127 / 27 Nov 2014
Nowhere to park? How the sharing economy is changing the way we use our space
Episode 141120 / 20 Nov 2014
How can science fiction help the world? Rob and Finn discuss a project which aims to inspire through stories of a bright future
Episode 141113 / 13 Nov 2014
Why is eating meat bad news?
Episode 141106 / 06 Nov 2014
Do real-life superheroes exist or are they just cartoon characters?
Episode 141030 / 30 Oct 2014
Rob and Finn discuss the World Health Organisation's recommendations on e-cigarettes
Episode 141023 / 23 Oct 2014
Should we eat less sugar? Listen to Rob and Neil and learn new vocabulary
Episode 141016 / 16 Oct 2014
Is learning English getting easier? Find out what's new
Episode 141009 / 09 Oct 2014
Why do we buy so much food and not eat it all? Learn more about food waste
Episode 141002 / 02 Oct 2014
Is it right to sleep at work? Rob and Finn discuss the benefits of sleeping on the job.
Episode 140929 / 29 Sep 2014
Is the way we see famous people a new thing? Learn about the first 'modern celebrity'.
Episode 140821 / 21 Aug 2014
Bored? You're not alone. Rob and Finn discuss how to deal with boredom and teach some related vocabulary. We promise you won't be bored!