Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Individual and small-chain restaurant meals exceed recommended daily calorie needs

Date:
May 13, 2013
Source:
Tufts University
Summary:
Researchers analyzed meals from independent and small-chain restaurants, which account for approximately 50% of the nation’s restaurant locations. They found that the average single meal contained two to three times the estimated calorie needs of an individual adult at a single meal and 66% of typical daily calorie requirements.

As the restaurant industry prepares to implement new rules requiring chains with 20 or more locations to post calorie content information, the results of a new study suggest that it would be beneficial to public health for all restaurants to provide consumers with the nutritional content of their products. Researchers at the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging (HNRCA) at Tufts University analyzed meals from independent and small-chain restaurants, which account for approximately 50% of the nation's restaurant locations but will be exempt from the new federal rules. They found that the average single meal contained two to three times the estimated calorie needs of an individual adult at a single meal and 66% of typical daily calorie requirements.

The findings were published today in JAMA Internal Medicine.

Using the bomb calorimetry method, researchers analyzed 157 full meals, including side dishes, from 33 randomly selected individual or small-chain restaurants within 15 miles of downtown Boston, Massachusetts; all restaurants had an online menu but did not provide nutritional information. Researchers collected samples from the most popular food choices in the nine most common restaurant types: Mexican, American, Chinese, Italian, Japanese, Thai, Indian, Greek and Vietnamese. The study was conducted between June and August 2011. Specific meal items selected for the study were identified based on customer rankings and from internet searches for popular foods.

"On average, the meals studied contained 1,327 calories, which significantly exceeds the estimated energy needs of an individual adult at a single meal," said senior and corresponding author Susan B. Roberts, Ph.D., director of the Energy Metabolism Laboratory at the HNRCA. "Meals from all restaurant types provided substantially more energy than is needed for weight maintenance."

Nearly three-quarters (73%) of the meals analyzed contained more than half of the FDA's daily energy recommendation of 2,000 calories, and 12 meals contained more than the entire recommended daily energy intake. Among the meal categories studied, the Italian (1,755 calories), American (1,494 calories) and Chinese (1,474 calories) meals had the highest average calorie levels. Vietnamese meals had the lowest calorie levels as measured by gross energy, with an average of 922 calories. The Japanese meals had the second lowest calories, with an average of 1,027 calories.

Researchers also examined a subset of the independent or small-chain restaurant meals and found that their average calorie content was 6% higher than the stated energy contents of equivalent meals in the largest national chain restaurants; this difference was not statistically significant. On average, the meals served at independent or small-chain restaurants had 1,437 calories, compared to an average of 1,359 calories as self-reported by larger national chain restaurants. "These comparative findings suggest that both non-chain and chain restaurants contribute to the obesity epidemic, which is making people unhealthy and has a huge impact on health care costs," said Dr. Roberts, who is also a professor at the Gerald J. and Dorothy R. Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University and an adjunct professor of psychiatry at the Tufts University School of Medicine.

"National recommendations for the prevention and treatment of obesity stress individual self-monitoring of food consumption, but there is little available information on the energy content of foods offered by restaurants that are not required to post nutrition information," said first author Lorien Urban, Ph.D., postdoctoral scholar in the Energy Metabolism Laboratory at the USDA HNRCA. "Given that an imbalance between energy intake and energy expenditure of only 100 calories per day can lead to a weight gain of between six and fifteen pounds per year, our findings suggest that routine reporting of meal calorie content by all restaurants, not just large chains, would encourage individuals to make informed choices about their diet and would discourage restaurants from offering unhealthy portions."

This work was supported by 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 views of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.


Story Source:

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


Journal Reference:

  1. Lorien E. Urban et al. The Energy Content of Restaurant Foods Without Stated Calorie Information. JAMA Intern Med., May 13, 2013 DOI: 10.1001/jamainternmed.2013.6163

Cite This Page:

Tufts University. "Individual and small-chain restaurant meals exceed recommended daily calorie needs." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 13 May 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/05/130513174005.htm>.
Tufts University. (2013, May 13). Individual and small-chain restaurant meals exceed recommended daily calorie needs. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 17, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/05/130513174005.htm
Tufts University. "Individual and small-chain restaurant meals exceed recommended daily calorie needs." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/05/130513174005.htm (accessed September 17, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

President To Send 3,000 Military Personnel To Fight Ebola

President To Send 3,000 Military Personnel To Fight Ebola

Newsy (Sep. 16, 2014) President Obama is expected to send 3,000 troops to West Africa as part of the effort to contain Ebola's spread. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Man Floats for 31 Hours in Gulf Waters

Man Floats for 31 Hours in Gulf Waters

AP (Sep. 16, 2014) A Texas man is lucky to be alive after he and three others floated for more than a day in the Gulf of Mexico when their boat sank during a fishing trip. (Sept. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ivorians Abandon Monkey Pets in Fear Over Ebola Virus

Ivorians Abandon Monkey Pets in Fear Over Ebola Virus

AFP (Sep. 16, 2014) Since the arrival of Ebola in Ivory Coast, Ivorians have been abandoning their pets, particularly monkeys, in the fear that they may transmit the virus. Duration: 00:47 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Study Links Male-Pattern Baldness To Prostate Cancer

Study Links Male-Pattern Baldness To Prostate Cancer

Newsy (Sep. 16, 2014) New findings suggest men with a certain type of baldness at age 45 are 39 percent more likely to develop aggressive prostate cancer. 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