Fast Food Nutrition Study Sees Little Change In Fast Food Portion Size, Nutrient Content Between 1996 And 2013

The average calorie content, salt content and saturated fat content of these items remained more or less the same since 1996 to 2013

The average calorie content, salt content and saturated fat content of these items remained more or less the same since 1996 to 2013

A study into the nutrition offered in meals from three major fast food chains finds there’s been little change in food portion sizes from 1996 to 2013. The calorie, sodium, saturated fat content of popular menu items has mostly stayed constant.

A team led by Alice H. Lichtenstein, D.Sc, director of the Cardiovascular Nutrition Laboratory at the USDA HNRCA, analyzed the nutrition of three popular fast food menu items. On the whole, the researchers focused on 27 items, including small, medium and large fries, 2-ounce and 4-ounce cheeseburgers, grilled chicken sandwiches and cola beverages.

The average calorie content, salt content and saturated fat content of these items remained more or less the same since 1996 to 2013, according to the researchers. The only positive trend was a consistent decline in the trans fat of fries. That was probably due to changes in frying fat, Lichtenstein said.

According to Lichtenstein, the risk in terms of obesity and other health issues comes when fast food items are ordered together. The calorie levels, salt and saturated fat are equally high in most of the individual menu items assessed, mainly for items sold together as a meal.

Generally nutritionists suggest that most people eat around 2,000 calories a day. Among the three fast food chains, calories in a large cheeseburger meal including fries and a regular cola beverage, ranged from 1,144 to 1,757 over the years. This means a single meal could add up to a person’s 88 percent of daily caloric requirements for a whole day. Besides that, the salt content in the cheeseburger meal averaged 91 percent of a person’s daily recommended intake, the researchers found.

However, Lichtenstein’s team found huge variations among chains. Depending on where a person ate, small orders of fries could differ by 110 calories and by 320 milligrams of sodium. Those variations also matter because a 100-calorie difference a day could mean about a 10-pound weight change per year.

The fast food industry can do more to help boost Americans’ health, Lichtenstein said. “Restaurants can help consumers by downsizing portion sizes and reformulating their food to contain less of these over consumed nutrients. This can be done, gradually, by cutting the amount of sodium, and using leaner cuts of meat and reduced-fat cheese.”

“From what we hear, some fast food chains are heading in that direction and also introducing new healthier options,” she added. “If taken advantage of, these changes should help consumers adhere to the current dietary recommendations.”

Avatar
Carrie Ann
Carrie Ann is Editor-in-Chief at Industry Leaders Magazine, based in Las Vegas. Carrie covers technology, trends, marketing, brands, productivity, and leadership. When she isn’t writing she prefers reading. She loves reading books and articles on business, economics, corporate law, luxury products, artificial intelligence, and latest technology. She’s keen on political discussions and shares an undying passion for gadgets. Follow Carrie Ann on Twitter, Facebook

Recent Posts

Hyundai commits $7.4 billion in US investment by 2025

Hyundai commits $7.4 billion in US investment by 2025

South Korea’s Hyundai Motor Co., announced on Thursday it will soon start manufacturing electric vehicles in the United States. The automaker plans to produce EVs, upgrade produc
2 days ago
US inflation report of 4.2 percent raises concerns

US inflation report of 4.2 percent raises concerns

The US reported the highest inflation recorded in the last dozen years at 4.2 percent in April, riding on government stimulus packages, improved energy prices, better spending and
2 days ago
Aon – Willis asset disposal aims to ease approval of $30 billion merger

Aon – Willis asset disposal aims to ease approval of $30 billion merger

Aon Plc and Willis Towers Watson have agreed to sell $3.6 billion worth of assets to rival Arthur J. Gallagher & Co. in a bid to appease European competition regulators over th
3 days ago
Roblox declares Q1, reports $387 million revenue as bookings increase

Roblox declares Q1, reports $387 million revenue as bookings increase

Roblox, the hugely popular online gaming platform, reported its first-quarter earnings after becoming a listed company. Its revenue more than doubled as the videogame company benef
4 days ago
Weak US job report results in volatile market

Weak US job report results in volatile market

A weak job report resulted in a record close on Friday for the US stocks. The US labor department’s monthly non-farm payrolls report revealed employers hired 266,000 new workers
5 days ago
Star and Blackstone launch bids to buyout Australia’s Crown Resorts

Star and Blackstone launch bids to buyout Australia’s Crown Resorts

A bidding war has broken out between Australian casino company Star Entertainment Group and US private equity investor Blackstone Group over Crown Resorts, Australia’s bigges
5 days ago