Monday, September 27, 2010

Shocking Results from a Study Looking at Restaurant Nutrition Labeling

According to a Study published in the Journal of the American Dietetics Association, researchers found that some restaurants' side dishes contained more calories than stated by the nutrition label.

Background on the study:
  • took place in Boston
  • Quick serve and sit-down restaurants that can be found throughout the USA were looked at
  • The nutrition and calorie content was analyzed and compared with the nutrition information stated by the vendors.
  • Restaurant menu items were chosen based on 3 criteria:
    • Must have at least 500 calories/ serving
    • Be typical American foods
    • Be among those foods on the menu with the lowest stated energy contents.

  • Calories of 29 restaurant foods were actually 18% more calories than stated
  • 7 restaurant foods double the stated calorie amount 
  • 5 restaurants provided free side dishes
    • These sides averaged 470 calories per side dish
    • The sides had more calories than the entrees they came with (which averaged about 440 calories).

The problem:

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration allows up to 20% excess calorie content but weight must be no more than 99% of the stated value.

Meaning, food manufacturers might add more food to their packages in order to meet the weight standards which in-turn increases the actual calorie content beyond what was originally stated.

What do I recommend?
Portion control- Eat according to the plate method and/ or do not exceed My Pyramid recommendations.
Use common sense when ordering at restaurants, and try to eat only half.

  • Eating less processed and pre-packaged foods
  • Eating more fresh fruits and vegetables
  • Cooking and preparing your own meals with wholesome ingredients
  • Limit how often you eat out to once per week.

This blog was adapted from an article in the ADA times, Winter 2010, pg 9

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