Restaurant Meals Loaded with Calories, Fat & Salt: Study

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One sit-down restaurant meal in Canada provides all the calories, fat and sodium you need for the day.

After an analysis of 3,507 possible ways to order 685 meals at 19 restaurant chains in Canada, researchers found that the  80% of the meals studied had at least a full day’s supply of sodium, according to the JAMA Internal Medicine report. The average amount of sodium ranged from 2,029 to 2,297 milligrams per meal.

At 1,128 calories, the average restaurant meal contained 56% of the 2,000 calories most people require in a day. With dessert an average of 549 calories was added, on average.

The study looked at meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and found the results relatively consistent. For breakfast, the average was 1,126 calories and 52 grams of fat;  lunch had 1,025 calories and 53 grams of fat; and dinner averaged 1,153 calories and 60 grams of fat. Meals that were labeled as “healthy” had less salt (50% of the recommended daily value), fat (20% of the daily value) and saturated fat (17% of the daily value). They averaged 474 calories.

Researchers used the University of Toronto restaurant nutrition database (constructed in 2010-2011) to study sit-down restaurants.

More on this study is available on the website of the JAMA Internal Medicine.

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