Counting May Lead To Cutting

A new study published in the journal Pediatrics showed that parents may choose healthier meals for their children if calorie counts were included with the meals on the menu. In addition, being given information on how much walking would be needed to burn off those calories could spur parents to encourage their children to exercise more.

The researchers noted that calories from fast-food restaurants comprised about one-third of diets in the United States.  Feedback from families that were studied suggested that calorie labels could help parents make better meal choices for their kids. In turn, kids learning from their parents’ example could benefit from picking up those healthier habits as they grow into adulthood.

Some restaurants such as McDonald’s already post calorie-count information, but little research had been done before this study to see if the labeling had any effect.  This study’s investigators offered parents a series of mock menus to order from, some with no calorie information and some that included either calorie amounts or amounts of exercise needed to burn off the calories.  Parents ordered meals with about 200 less calories when using the menus with the added information. 

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