Why knowing the calorie content at McDonald's is pointless

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The urge for a Big Mac will always win out…

Big Mac

© McDonalds

It's long been presumed giving diners calorie information on restaurant menus will help people make healthier food choices. Not so when it comes to McDonald's a study has found.

A group of researchers from Carnegie Mellon University tested whether knowing how many calories you should eat a day alongside having the calorie counts of the food would make a difference to what people ordered. Turns out – being well informed doesn't stand in the way of getting that burger.

They studied the behaviour of over 1,000 people at two McDonald's in New York City. In addition to the calorie information of the food itself, some people were given menus showing their recommended daily calorie intake, some were told the recommended per-meal calorie intake and a third group weren't told anything new.

The results showed that people didn't alter their food choices based on having the calorie recommendations.

''There have been high hopes that menu labelling could be a key tool to help combat high obesity levels in this country,' explained the study's lead author Julie Downs.

'Unfortunately, this approach doesn't appear to be helping to reduce consumption very much, even when we give consumers what policymakers thought might help: some guidance for how many calories they should be eating.'

She added, 'It may be unrealistic to expect many consumers to keep such close, numeric track of their food intake by using the labels directly.'

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