Can more prominent labeling lead to lower-calorie food selections? According to this study in PEDIATRICS it may, at least for parents selecting fast-food meals for their toddlers.
In the experiment, two groups of parents who regularly frequented fast food restaurants were asked to select their meals from a McDonald’s menu. One group’s menu had nutritional information provided, the other did not.
The group that was provided with nutrition data selected meals for their 3-6 year-old children that averaged slightly over 100 fewer calories than the control group. This is a significant reduction; an extra 100 calories per day can adds up to 10 lb. of weight gain per year.
One interesting note is that while parents were seemingly interested in making smarter choices for their children, the provided data did not cause them to alter their own meal selections. There was no difference in the calorie count of the meals that the adults selected for themselves.
As parents we all want “better” for our children, and clearer labeling would obviously help. But in the long run, if we are unwilling to set a good example ourselves, it seems doubtful that our kids will learn to make better choices.