FREAK Shots: Nudging the Calorie Counters

We blogged about musical stairs in Stockholm that try to encourage stair-climbing rather than escalator-riding. One of the issues with this “nudge,” as Dubner wrote, is that it’s probably more fun for people to descend them than to ascend.

These stairs in Lisbon, however, address that problem by appealing to the calorie conscious.

A similar nudge at an Israeli park encourages people to walk the long distance from the parking lot to a cave. As Flickr user goldberg explains, a series of signs along the route tell you how many calories you’ve burned.

DESCRIPTIONPhoto: goldberg

But since the people most influenced by calorie counts may be the least likely to go looking for cheese fries, what kind of effect does this kind of sign have?

DESCRIPTIONPhoto: kevharb

Or this one, at Coney Island?

DESCRIPTIONPhoto: bluespf42

Flickr user bluespf45, who took the Coney Island photo, puts it succinctly: “I really didn’t want to know.”

(Send your FREAK-worthy photos here.)


At 100 Kcalories per mile walked or ran, the fact is that you'd have to train for marathons to burn off weight. Expecting everyone to run 10 miles a day is utterly ridiculous. All most people would end up doing is rip apart their lower bodies. Just ask anyone whose job entails being on your feet all day. Orthopedic surgeons would make BIG bucks!

The problem is the food has too many calories in it, with all the added fat and sugar in it. If it was any worse, a goose could fly around the world like Steve Fossett on one bellyful. What we need is to tax calories and subsidize fresh produce instead of the present case of subsidizing high fructose corn syrup and sugar growers.

As far as training for marathons, there was a PBS Nova special where they took a bunch of average people to see how many could make it. Half dropped out due to various health problems before the race. The other half tried the race with dismal results. Half dropped out of the race and the remainder logged dismal times. The average human is not meant to run marathons. What a non-surprise.