The Name of a Restaurant or Product Doesn’t Make It a Healthy Choice
The next time you’re looking to grab a quick bite, take what you’re eating into more consideration than where you’re eating.
A recent study showed that, when out to eat, young people tend to choose high calorie meals — even at fast food restaurants marketed as healthy. Researchers in Los Angeles sent 97 young people, ages 12 to 21, to McDonald’s one day for a meal and Subway on another to report on the calorie difference of meals chosen at the two popular chains.
The healthy choices offered by fast food restaurants are not what concern researchers, it’s what young people end up purchasing.
“Our study was not based on what people have the ability to pick, our study was based on what adolescents actually selected in a real-world setting,” the study’s lead researcher, Dr. Lenard Lesser of the Palo Alto Medical Foundation Research Institute, told the LA Times.
On average, the subjects purchased a total of 1,038 calories at McDonald’s and 955 calories at Subway.
While the number of participants in the study was small and limited to one area, it serves as a reminder that the name of the restaurant doesn’t make everything on the menu healthy.
If you’re looking to make healthier decisions while eating out, don’t just assume you’re safe based on a restaurant’s reputation or a product’s marketing.
For example, many variants of McDonald’s new McWrap, which was referred to as a “Subway buster” in a leaked company memo, have more calories than a Quarter Pounder with Cheese. The classic burger has a total of 520 calories, while a “Premium McWrap Chicken & Ranch (Crispy)” has 590 calories, according to McDonald’s nutrition facts.
It’s a wake up call for those who assume their fast food choices are healthy based on marketing.
Related: How Accurate are Nutrition Labels?