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Majority of Restaurant Meals Have Too Many Calories

Over the past three decades America has simultaneously seen an increase in the number of meals eaten out and an increase in the number of people with obesity. A recent study suggests that the two may be related. Researchers from Tufts University discovered that meals at 92% of restaurants contained more than the recommended calories for a single meal.


For this study, the researchers examined 364 restaurant meals in chain and local restaurants in Boston, San Francisco, and Little Rock, Arkansas. The data on calorie content was collected between 2011 and 2014 and included American, Chinese, Greek, Indian, Italian, Japanese, Mexican, Thai, and Vietnamese food.


The researchers found that in 123 restaurants, a single serving meal that didn’t include beverages, appetizers, or desserts sometimes had more calories than is recommended for an entire day. Of all of the types of cuisine examined, American, Chinese, and Italian had the highest calorie count, with a mean of 1,495 calories per meal.


The study was published online ahead of print in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics on January 20, 2016.


Obesity has a far ranging negative effect on health. The negative health effects associated with obesity include high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, osteoarthritis, metabolic syndrome and sleep apnea. Additionally, obesity causes approximately 300,000 premature deaths in the United States each year.


Improving eating habits and increasing physical activity play a vital role in preventing obesity.  It is recommended that we eat five to six servings of fruits and vegetables per day and, according to this study, either eat out less or eat less when we eat out. It also recommended that we get at least 30 minutes of moderate intensity activity every day.

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