No one would deny the fact that there has been a global rise in the incidence of obesity and other chronic ailments due to an increased consumption of fast food. The consumption of fast food may have increased but fast food in totality per say, hasn't changed a lot since 1996, says a recent study. According to a study published in the journal Preventing Chronic Disease, the average calorie count, sodium and saturated fat content in fast food is similar to what it was in the year 1996. Surprisingly, even the food portion size has not changed much in all these years. Eating Fast Food Results in Poor Academic Results
"There is a perception that restaurants have significantly expanded their portion sizes over the years, but the fast food we assessed does not appear to be part of that trend," said Alice H Lichtenstein, who led the research. Researchers at the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) Human Nutrition Research Centre on Ageing at Tufts University analysed fast food on the parameters of the calorie count, the amount of sodium, saturated fat and trans-fat. The study involved examining these components in some of the popular menu items served at three American fast-food chains between years 1996 and 2013. The only exception seen was in case of fries, where a declining trend was seen in terms of trans-fat.
Lichtenstein and colleagues focused on the four most popular menu items: fries, cheeseburgers, grilled chicken sandwiches, and regular cola, looking for trends in portion size and nutrient content over a span of 18 years. "Our analysis indicates relative consistency in the quantities of calories, saturated fat, and sodium. However, the variability among chains is considerable and the levels are high for most of the individual menu items assessed, particularly for items frequently sold together as a meal, pushing the limits of what we should be eating to maintain a healthy weight and sodium intake," said Lichtenstein.
"For example, among the three chains, calories in a large cheeseburger meal, with fries and a regular cola beverage, ranged from 1144 to 1757 over the years and among restaurants, representing 57 per cent to 88 per cent out of the approximately 2000 calories most people should eat per day," Lichtenstein said. The team examined 27 items including small, medium and large fries and cola beverages, a grilled chicken sandwich and cheeseburgers. They found only small fluctuations in calorie content and the amount of saturated fat and sodium. The notable exception was fries, which decreased first in saturated fat in 2001 and then trans-fat, likely due to changes to the frying fat. It was also found that the calorie content of the cheeseburger meal among the three chains represented 65 per cent to 80 per cent of a 2,000 calorie per day diet and sodium content represented 63 per cent to 91 per cent of the recommendation.
Inputs from IANS and PTI