New studies show that food an average meal served in restaurant chains actually contain higher calories than what's served in fast food joints. With obesity increasingly becoming a major health issue, research around the world was conducted to determine some causes and peoples’ relationship with food. While counting calories is important, it’s also essential we take into account the nutritional content of the meals we eat.
The main issue with fast food is the empty calories. Food has a high calorie count, but low nutritional value. Because of this, consumers tend to assume that sit-down restaurants are much better for their health. While it is true that there are less empty calories in restaurant food, calorie content can be higher due to volume served and amount of ingredients used.
CNN outlines studies conducted by American and British researchers to highlight the issue of calories. One research compared the calorie content (measured as kcal) of foods in restaurants across countries, and another compared the average calorie count of domestic restaurants. The former found that only the Chinese served fewer calories per meal than the Americans, and Indian meals tended to have the higher calorie count. The latter concluded that an average fast food meal in the UK contained 33% less calories than a restaurant meal. Public Health England recommends that lunches and evening meals should not contain more than 600 calories, and only 11% of the dishes surveyed in 21 sit-down restaurants met this standard.
This study does not prove, however, that it is better to eat at a fast food place rather than a chain restaurant—nor does it prove that chain restaurants will be better for our health. The research gives us the facts of the food we choose to consume, and we should take this into account when watching our diets. Along with nutritional facts labels, studies like these allow us to become more informed consumers.
When it comes to dieting, it’s important to know that there is no one quick and easy solution. Proper eating takes time and discipline, whether one wants to acknowledge it or not. Studies on food allow us to know if a behaviour needs to be changed rather than dictate what we should or shouldn’t eat. For this calorie count study, a big takeaway is to know that you cannot fully control the contents of your meal when you eat out. Perhaps it’s better to save eating at a fast food place or a restaurant for cheat days, or just don’t eat out that often.