A Harvard University survey of customers eating at 10 different burger, sandwich and doughnut chains found people hugely underestimated just how much they were consuming. In fact, a quarter of all those asked underestimated the calorie content of their food by 500 calories.
More than 3,000 children, teenagers and adults were interviewed across the U.S. They were asked how much they ordered and how many calories they thought their meals contained.
On average, adults ate 836 calories per meal, while children and teenagers consumed over 700 – over a third of their daily calorie allowance. Eating just 100 excess calories a day can equate to several pounds of fat in a year.
In Britain, sanctions are being put in place to reveal the nutritional information of most fast food products. It is hoped that this will encourage customers to take more responsibility for their food choices.
One particularly misleading fast food chain is Subway, which many people assume is a healthier alternative to burgers and chips. However, many of the sandwiches contain as many if not more calories than their apparently unhealthier counterparts.
The Harvard researchers hope these figures will help with the campaign for clear food labelling across the U.S.
“Previous research has found that information can be most powerful when it contradicts previous expectations (in this case, improper estimation of calorie content of foods with a ‘health halo’),” they wrote.
Takeaway food tends to contain high levels of fat, sugar and salt, all of which can lead to health problems such as obesity, diabetes and heart disease. To avoid these complications, you are advised to find real healthy alternatives.
To find out more about what is good for you and what is not, you can hire a nutritionist. To find out what a nutritionist can help with, please visit our Nutrition Topics page.
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