Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Study examines calorie information from restaurants, packaged foods

Date:
January 9, 2010
Source:
Tufts University, Health Sciences
Summary:
A new study analyzes the calorie content of 18 side dishes and entrees from national sit-down chain restaurants, 11 side dishes and entrees from national fast food restaurants and 10 frozen meals purchased from supermarkets. Researchers compared their results to the calorie content information provided to the public by the restaurants and food companies.

How many calories are in restaurant meals? Researchers analyzed the calorie content of 18 side dishes and entrees from national sit-down chain restaurants, 11 side dishes and entrees from national fast food restaurants and 10 frozen meals purchased from supermarkets.
Credit: iStockphoto

As a growing number of fast food and chain restaurants display the calorie content of their dishes on websites and menus, a study suggests some of this information may be unreliable.

Researchers at Tufts University analyzed the calorie content of 18 side dishes and entrees from national sit-down chain restaurants, 11 side dishes and entrees from national fast food restaurants and 10 frozen meals purchased from supermarkets. They compared their results to the calorie content information provided to the public by the restaurants and food companies. "Because we analyzed a relatively small sample of food, additional research testing more foods will be needed to see if this is a nation-wide problem," says senior author Susan B. Roberts, PhD, a professor at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University.

On average, the calorie content information provided by the restaurants was 18 percent less than the researcher's calorie content analysis. Two side dishes exceeded the restaurant's reported calorie information by nearly 200 percent. The calorie content information reported by packaged food companies averaged 8 percent less than the researchers' analysis. "If people use published calorie contents for weight control, discrepancies of this magnitude could result in weight gain of many pounds a year," Roberts says.

Writing in the January issue of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association, the authors attribute the smaller 8 percent discrepancy between their results and the calorie content information from the frozen food companies to Food and Drug Administration (FDA) oversight of Nutrition Fact information labels. Current FDA rules are more lenient towards underreporting calories than over reporting them.

"We tested frozen foods straight out of their packages. For the restaurant foods we first calculated calorie content based on the portion we were served," Roberts says. "When we went one step further and calculated calorie content based on the portion size listed on the restaurant's nutrition literature, the discrepancies between our results and the restaurant's results decreased, which suggests oversized portions were part of the problem."

Five restaurants offered free side dishes which were not factored into the calorie information provided for the entrees. The authors observed that, on average, the side dishes contained more calories than the entrιes they accompanied.

"Restaurant menus and websites should be as clear as possible," Roberts says. "For example, listing the calorie contents of free side dishes on separate pages from entrees may mislead customers about how much they are eating and may prevent them from making informed decisions between different side dish choices."

The authors also note recent municipal initiatives asking restaurants to publicize nutrition information. "If the goals of these polices are to encourage a healthier society and weight loss, inaccurate calorie content information could well hamper these efforts," Roberts says.

This work was supported by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Tufts University, Health Sciences. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Urban et al. The Accuracy of Stated Energy Contents of Reduced-Energy, Commercially Prepared Foods. Journal of the American Dietetic Association, 2010; 110 (1): 116 DOI: 10.1016/j.jada.2009.10.003

Cite This Page:

Tufts University, Health Sciences. "Study examines calorie information from restaurants, packaged foods." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 9 January 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/01/100106095051.htm>.
Tufts University, Health Sciences. (2010, January 9). Study examines calorie information from restaurants, packaged foods. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 24, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/01/100106095051.htm
Tufts University, Health Sciences. "Study examines calorie information from restaurants, packaged foods." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/01/100106095051.htm (accessed July 24, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Condemned Man's US Execution Takes Nearly Two Hours

Condemned Man's US Execution Takes Nearly Two Hours

AFP (July 24, 2014) — America's death penalty debate raged Thursday after it took nearly two hours for Arizona to execute a prisoner who lost a Supreme Court battle challenging the experimental lethal drug cocktail. Duration: 00:55 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
China's Ageing Millions Look Forward to Bleak Future

China's Ageing Millions Look Forward to Bleak Future

AFP (July 24, 2014) — China's elderly population is expanding so quickly that children struggle to look after them, pushing them to do something unexpected in Chinese society- move their parents into a nursing home. Duration: 02:07 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Hundreds in Virginia Turn out for a Free Clinic to Manage Health

Hundreds in Virginia Turn out for a Free Clinic to Manage Health

AFP (July 24, 2014) — America may be the world’s richest country, but in terms of healthcare, the World Health Organisation ranks it 37th - prompting hundreds in Virginia to turn out for a free clinic run by “Remote Area Medical”. Duration 02:40 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Idaho Boy Helps Brother With Disabilities Complete Triathlon

Idaho Boy Helps Brother With Disabilities Complete Triathlon

Newsy (July 23, 2014) — An 8-year-old boy helped his younger brother, who has a rare genetic condition that's confined him to a wheelchair, finish a triathlon. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins