Calories on Fast-Food Menus Cuts Intake

A new study has discovered that parents are more likely to pick healthier foods for their children in a fast food restaurant if nutritional information is provided.

Conducted using McDonald’s menus, this study surveyed 99 parents of children aged 3 to 6 years. Parents were asked to choose items for their children and themselves. Half of the menus contained nutritional information and the other half did not. The parents who received menus with nutritional information picked options for their children with an average of 102 fewer calories than the parents with the other menus.

Dr. Pooja Tandon, a pediatrics fellow at the University of Washington, saw this as a considerable improvement. “One hundred calories over time is actually a significant amount in terms of weight gain, given the rates of fast food consumption and childhood obesity in our country,” she said.

In some cases mandated by legislation, American restaurant chains have started posting nutritional information about their menu items. Until this study, however, it was unclear if providing this information had any effect on eating habits.

The findings of this study were also reflected in additional research presented at the Obesity Society annual meeting in Washington, DC. This study consisted of a larger sample audience of more than 10,000 customers eating at 275 fast food restaurants in New York City. The participants who used nutritional information selected items totaling 106 fewer calories on average.