Fast Food Follies
It’s not just that fast food restaurants are offering more entrees and desserts than ever before, a new study from Boston University found that the amounts of calories and sodium these dishes contain has increased significantly over time, as have portion sizes. The study also found that in the U.S. 37 percent of adults consume fast food on any given day (that number goes up to 45 percent among those between the ages of 20 and 39). The researchers reported that a single meal with an entrée and side dish gives you up to an average of 767 calories. That’s nearly 40 percent of a 2,000 calorie per day diet, the amount needed for a moderately active adult woman to maintain her weight. Add in a caloric beverage and that total jumps to 45 to 50 percent of those 2,000 calories. The study found that the portion size of entrees grew by 13 grams per decade (the equivalent of 30 calories), and of desserts by 24 grams (the equivalent of 62 calories) per decade and that sodium increased significantly in both categories as well as in side dishes.
My take? This is pretty discouraging news. While it is true that some fast food outlets have added healthier menu items, the number of people who continue to consume fast foods daily helps explain our growing obesity epidemic. If you go to fast food restaurants, I would encourage you to pay attention to the calorie counts and other nutritional information now required to be posted by all those with 20 or more outlets. Better yet, avoid these establishments all together.
Megan A. McCrory et al, “Fast-Food Offerings in the United States in 1986, 1991, and 2016 Show Large Increases in Food Variety, Portion Size, Dietary Energy, and Selected Micronutrients.” Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, February 27, 2019; DOI: 10.1016/j.jand.2018.12.004
Also in this week’s bulletin:
- The Diet Strategy That Really Works
- What Is The Healthiest Country?
- This week’s recipe: Shaved Asparagus & Arugula Salad