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Listing Calories on Fast-Food Menus Cuts Kids' Intake
Date:1/25/2010

Parents routinely chose about 100 fewer calories per meal for their children, study found

MONDAY, Jan. 25 (HealthDay News) -- When nutritional information is available on fast-food restaurant menus, parents are more apt to pick lower-calorie foods for their kids, new research finds.

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.

The new study, conducted with McDonald's menus, suggests that it does.

"When parents are provided with calorie information they chose about 100 calories less [per meal] for their 3- to 6-year-old child compared to parents who didn't have that information," said lead researcher Dr. Pooja Tandon, a graduate fellow in the department of general pediatrics at the University of Washington in Seattle.

"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 added.

The report is published in the Jan. 25 online issue of Pediatrics.

For the study, Tandon's team 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 pare
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