Fast food menus with calorie information is beneficial as it results in reduced calorie intake,say researchers.
Led by researcher Dr Pooja S. Tandon, from Seattle Children's Research Institute, the findings showed that when parents have access to this information they might make smarter meal choices for their children.
During the study, team recruited 99 parents of 3- to 6-year-olds who sometimes eat in fast food restaurants with their children.
They were presented with sample McDonald's restaurant menus which included current prices and pictures of items, and asked what they would select for themselves and also for their children as a typical meal.
Half of the parents were given menus that also clearly showed calorie information for each item.
Choices included most of the items sold at McDonald's, including a variety of burgers, sandwiches, salads, dressings, side items, beverages, desserts and children's "Happy Meals."
The study showed that parents who were given the calorie information chose 102 fewer calories on average for their children, compared with the group who did not have access to calorie information on their menus.
"Even modest calorie adjustments on a regular basis can avert weight gain and lead to better health over time," said Tandon.
"Just an extra 100 calories per day may equate to about ten pounds of weight gain per year. Interestingly, by simply providing parents the caloric information they chose lower calorie items.
"This is encouraging, and suggests that parents do want to make wise food decisions for their children, but they need help," she added.
The study is published online in journal Pediatrics.