Posts belonging to Category fast foods



Parents Underestimate the Calories in Fast Food Meals

At a recent meeting of the Obesity Society Jason Block, MD, of Harvard Medical School and fellow researchers reported that parents often underestimate the calories their school-age kids are consuming when they eat large meals at fast food restaurants.

caloriesAccording to the study, the average meal purchased  in four New England cities contained 733 calories, and 21% contained more than 1,000 calories, But the parents estimated an average of only 562 calories per meal, with 72% underestimating the actual content. “There was an association between larger meals and larger underestimations, which may hold some promise for menu labeling,” Dr. Block said. He noted that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) mandates that restaurants with 20 or more locations nationwide post calorie information on their menus.

The researchers found that only 15% of parents saw nutritional information in the restaurants and fewer still (4%) used that information when ordering. “So they may not use it even if it’s more accessible,” Block stated.

Last year at the society’s annual meeting, Dr Block reported that 80% of adolescents in Boston, Springfield, Mass., Providence, R.I., and Hartford, Conn., underestimated the amount of calories their fast food meals contained and 86% did not notice any nutritional information in the restaurants.

In the current study, Block and his colleagues visited 10 restaurants in each of the four cities… three McDonald’s, three Burger King, two Subway, one KFC, and one Wendy’s. Each restaurant was visited six times at dinnertime.

Those participating in the study included parents or legal guardians of children and teens, ages 3 to 15 (mean age 7.9). The analysis included 330 families, representing 45% of those who were approached.

Most of the children (57%) were overweight or obese. The sample was ethnically diverse — 33% black, 30% Hispanic, 19% white, 3% Asian, and 15% other or multiracial.

The researchers collected receipts when the parents left the restaurants and administered a short survey about the calorie content of the meal and awareness and use of the nutritional information. The actual calorie content of the meals was calculated using the receipts and information on the restaurants’ websites.

Many of the parents purchased large meals for their children and most underestimated the calorie content. Nearly one-quarter (24%) underestimated the calorie count by at least 500.

Those who underestimated the daily requirement tended to also underestimate the calories in a meal, a finding that “supports an anchoring statement on menus,” Block said. The federal regulations require that, in addition to calorie information, menus must include an anchoring statement describing the typical daily calorie requirement.

The study was funded by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute and by a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health and Society Scholars Seed Grant.

Source: The Obesity Society

 

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Why are Fast Foods So Salty in U.S.and Canada ?

Did you ever read the salt content of fast foods? Scary! What is even scarier is the news that the same fast foods sold abroad have less salt in them.

According to a study that appeared in the April 16 issues of the  Canadian Medical Association’s journal, CMAJ there are significant differences in the amount of salt in fast foods sold in fast-food restaurants in the U.S., Canada and other countries.

Study researchers examined the salt content of more than 2,100 food items in seven product categories sold by Burger King, Domino’s Pizza, Kentucky Fried Chicken, McDonald’s, Pizza Hut and Subway in the United States, Canada, Australia, France, New Zealand and the United Kingdom.

fastResearchers found that McDonald’s fast food Chicken McNuggets in Canada contained 2.5 times more sodium than those in the United Kingdom. There were 600 milligrams of sodium (1.5 grams of salt) in a 3.5-ounce serving in Canada, but the same serving size in the United Kingdom contained 240 milligrams of sodium (0.6 grams of salt).

Norman Campbell, of the University of Calgary, and colleagues, said in a journal news release that”Canadian companies indicate they have been working to reduce sodium but the high sodium in these foods indicates voluntary efforts aren’t working.

These high levels indicate failure of the current government approach that leaves salt reduction solely in the hands of industry,” the researchers reported. “Salt-reduction programs need to guide industry and oversee it with targets and timelines for foods, monitoring and evaluation, and stronger regulatory measures if the structured voluntary efforts are not effective.”

The researchers concluded,”Decreasing salt in fast foods would appear to be technically feasible, and is likely to produce important gains in population health — the average salt levels of fast foods are high, and these foods are eaten often.”

SOURCE: Canadian Medical Association Journal, news release, April 11, 2012

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