Friday, May 18, 2012

Watch Out While Eating Out

I just saw a USAToday article about an 18-month study conducted by the Rand Corp. and funded by the Robert Wood J ohnson Foundation.  This study examined the nutritional content of 30,923 menu items from 245 restaurant brands across the USA and found that a whopping 96% of main entrees sold at top U.S. chain eateries exceed daily limits for calories, sodium, fat and saturated fat recommended by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. In general, then, they appear to conclude that eating out is not typically conducive to healthy eating.  While this may not be terribly surprising, here are three additional specific findings that may help inform restaurant nutritional choices:
  • Appetizers often had higher caloric content than main entrees.  Appetizers averaged 813 calories per serving -- main entrees averaged only 674 calories per serving.
  • Family restaurants were actually worse than their dreaded fast-food counterparts.  Entrees at these family-style eateries averaged 271 more calories, 435 more milligrams of sodium and 16 more grams of fat.
  • Kid "specialty" drinks are often not kid "health friendly."  Their median calorie count was 430.  For comparison, regular menu drinks had a median of 360 calories.

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