Fast food menus with calorie information lead to healthier choices for children

January 28, 2010 in Nutrition for Children and Teenagers, Nutrition Topics in the News

Fast food menus with calorie information lead to healthier choices for children
A study released this week has found that when the calorie content is provided on fast food menus, parents consistently choose lower calorie options for their kids.

To examine the effect that the presence of calorie information on fast food menus would have on parent’s choices for their kids, researchers from the Seattle Children’s Research Institute studied over 90 parents of kids between the ages of 3 and 6.  All of the parents received fast food menus that included prices and pictures of the food available and were told to order a hypothetical meal for their kids.  Half of the menus also clearly showed calorie information for each item.  Menu items included the usual fast food fare, including burgers, sandwiches, beverages and desserts.  

Researchers found that parents who were given the calorie information ordered, on average, 102 fewer calories for their children, reflecting a calorie reduction of nearly 20 percent for each meal.

While it may not sound like a lot, studies consistently show that moderate daily calorie adjustments can add up over time.  Consider that 100 extra calories a day for one-year can translate to a 10-pound weight gain.

Interestingly, researchers found that when parents were ordering for themselves, there was no difference in calorie content between the two groups – despite the presence of nutrient information.

Wondering how to make healthy choices for you and your family when dining out? Book an appointment with Leslie Beck for one-on-one nutrition counseling and personalized meal suggestions.

All research on this web site is the property of Leslie Beck Nutrition Consulting Inc. and is protected by copyright. Keep in mind that research on these matters continues daily and is subject to change. The information presented is not intended as a substitute for medical treatment. It is intended to provide ongoing support of your healthy lifestyle practices.