“Just because it’s controversial, we shouldn’t discount it” – Professor speaks out on Physical Activity Calorie Equivalent (PACE) labelling

Loughborough University’s Professor Amanda Daley has reiterated her belief that PACE labelling may help the nation become healthier.

Speaking as a guest on the University’s new ‘Experts in Health’ podcast, Prof Daley said: “IVF was hugely controversial, chemotherapy was hugely controversial, but could you imagine a life where we don’t have those treatments?

“Just because it might have negative effects for one population, it doesn’t mean we have to discount it.”

PACE labelling is an approach that sees food and drinks labelled with the amount and type of physical activity needed to expend the calories they contain. It may be an effective way of encouraging people to reduce their calorie consumption – but also comes with its critics.

Charities that provide support for people affected by eating disorders and body image issues have warned that encouraging people to start watching, counting, and burning off food could prove problematic for individuals at risk.

Prof Daley told podcast host Dr Chris McLeod that she appreciates the complexities involved: “We’ve got a small number of people who experience an eating disorder, but we’ve also got 60% of the population that are overweight.

“Many of those people are dying of diseases that could have been prevented had they not been overweight…if you know that a carrot is going to take you one minute of running [to burn off], and a chocolate cake is going to take you 20 minutes of running [to burn off], then it might help or nudge you towards eating the carrot.”

Prof Daley also spoke about the difficult conversations she often has with concerned parents: “It bothers me when I get phone calls from parents of children who have eating disorders. You can’t not be moved by that. You have to reflect and ask, ‘is this worth it?’”

Amanda Daley is a Professor of Behavioural Medicine and an NIHR Research Professor in Public Health. She is also the Director of Loughborough University’s Centre for Lifestyle Medicine and Behaviour (CLiMB).

Experts in Health is a podcast that highlights the latest research and trends in health.

Season one welcomes seven guests across a host of different disciplines and can be viewed in full on the Loughborough University YouTube channel by visiting: https://youtube.com/playlist?list=PLxZznBvU4YC92nGQuBbn3Ir0IzB2gU6c3&si=PPG8VZxExM3U63Eo

Experts in Health is also available in audio form and listeners can subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and TuneIn.

Notes for editors

Press release reference number: 24/21

Loughborough is one of the country’s leading universities, with an international reputation for research that matters, excellence in teaching, strong links with industry, and unrivalled achievement in sport and its underpinning academic disciplines.

It has been awarded five stars in the independent QS Stars university rating scheme, named the best university in the world for sports-related subjects in the 2023 QS World University Rankings – the seventh year running – and University of the Year for Sport by The Times and Sunday Times University Guide 2022.

Loughborough is ranked 7th in The UK Complete University Guide 2023, 10th in the Guardian University League Table 2024 and 10th in the Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2024.

Loughborough is consistently ranked in the top twenty of UK universities in the Times Higher Education’s ‘table of tables’, and in the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2021 over 90% of its research was rated as ‘world-leading’ or ‘internationally-excellent’. In recognition of its contribution to the sector, Loughborough has been awarded seven Queen's Anniversary Prizes.

The Loughborough University London campus is based on the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and offers postgraduate and executive-level education, as well as research and enterprise opportunities. It is home to influential thought leaders, pioneering researchers and creative innovators who provide students with the highest quality of teaching and the very latest in modern thinking.