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Picture yourself before a McDonald’s menu board, with your kids in tow. Calorie counts are posted. What will you order?
According to new research published in the journal Pediatrics, when calorie counts are visibly posted, parents are more likely to order the lower cal items for their kids, but not for themselves.
The study, which examined the ordering patterns of 99 parents of three- to six-year-olds, took place at a pediatric clinic, not at an actual fast food joint. When presented with sample menus that listed calorie counts, parents chose meals for their kids with roughly 102 fewer calories than when they were handed menus without nutritional data.
The most interesting part of the study isn’t that parents ordered healthier food for their kids – after all, they were at a pediatric health clinic, so it’s predictable that they’d make responsible parental choices in that environment. What fascinates me is that the meals they ordered for themselves weren’t influenced by the calorie data.
At some point, of course, the kids will catch on. “Mommy, why do I get a plain hamburger when you get a bacon double cheeseburger?”