A study published in Pediatrics
shows that when nutritional information is available on fast-food restaurant menus, parents are more apt to pick lower-calorie foods for their kids. Often spurred on by legislation, many U.S. restaurant chains are now posting nutrition information about their menu items. But whether this information would translate to healthier eating was unclear. This study, conducted with McDonald’s menus, suggests that it does.
For the study, the researchers surveyed 99 parents of 3-to 6-year-olds about the foods they selected for their children at fast food restaurants. The parents were given pictures of McDonald’s menu choices and asked which items they would pick for themselves and their children. Half of the menus had calorie information for each item and half did not. Choices included sandwiches, salads, dressings, side items, beverages, desserts, and children’s meals.
The team found that parents given menus with calorie information picked items with an average of 102 less calories for their children than did the parents whose menus didn’t have the calorie data. However, there was no difference between the two groups in the calories of the items parents selected for themselves.