Listing calories on fast-food menus cuts intake
New research shows that parents are more likely to make healthy choices for their children if they’re given access to the proper nutritional information.
Dr. Pooja Tandon, a graduate fellow in the department of general pediatrics at the University of Washington in Seattle, conducted a study that used McDonald’s menu items to test how parents responded to the availability of nutritional information. Researchers showed 99 parents of 3- to 6-year-olds pictures of McDonald’s menu items, including sandwiches, salads, dressings, side items, beverages, desserts, and children’s meals. Half of the parents were given menus with calorie information for each item and half of the parents received menus with no nutritional information. The parents were then asked which items they would pick for themselves and their children.
While there was no difference in which foods the parents chose for themselves, the parents who were given nutritional information picked lower-calorie meals for their children. The parents with detailed menus chose meals with an average of 102 fewer calories for their children than the parents who were given no nutritional information.
Tandon said that, “These results make me optimistic that if parents are provided nutrition information at the point they are purchasing fast food for their children they actually make lower calorie, healthier choices for their families.” She hopes that this research may help support legislative efforts designed to encourage fast food restaurants to make nutritional information regularly available to diners.