Small changes to familiar combo meals can help cut calorie consumption

Published on December 20, 2013 at 2:09 AM · No Comments

What would happen if a fast-food restaurant reduces the calories in a children's meal by 104 calories, mainly by decreasing the portion size of French fries? Would children compensate by choosing a more calorie dense entr-e or beverage? Researchers at Cornell University, Dr. Brian Wansink and Dr. Andrew Hanks, analyzed transaction data from 30 representative McDonald's restaurants to answer that question.

Prior to 2012, the Happy Meal- was served with one of three entr-e options (chicken nuggets, cheeseburger, hamburger), a side item (apples or small size French fry), and a beverage (fountain beverage, white milk, chocolate milk, apple juice). By April 2012, all restaurants in this chain served a smaller size "kid fry" and a packet of apples with each CMB. Wansink and Hanks found that this change in default side offerings resulted 98 of the 104-calorie decrease in the CMB.

With such a large decrease in calories, would children compensate by choosing a more calorie dense entr-e or beverage? Wansink and Hanks found that 99% of children ordered the same entr-e, and orders of chicken nuggets (the lowest calorie entr-e) remained flat at nearly 62% of all orders. Yet, nearly 11% fewer children took caloric soda as a beverage and 22% more chose white or chocolate milk-a more satiating beverage. This increase was partially due to small changes in advertising for milk. Interestingly, the chocolate milk served in 2012 was of the fat-free variety compared to the 1% milk variety served previously. It also contained 40 fewer calories. Overall, the substitutions in beverage purchases resulted in 6 fewer calories served with the average CMB.

Small changes in the automatic-or default-foods offered or promoted in children's meals can reduce calorie intake and improve the overall nutrition from selected foods as long as there is still an indulgence. Importantly, balancing a meal with smaller portions of favored foods might avoid reactance and overeating. Just as managers have done this in restaurants, parents can do this at home.

Source: Cornell Food & Brand Lab

Posted in: Healthcare News

Tags:

Read in | English | Español | Français | Deutsch | Português | Italiano | 日本語 | 한국어 | 简体中文 | 繁體中文 | Nederlands | Русский | Svenska | Polski
Comments
The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News-Medical.Net.
Post a new comment
Post