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Fast Food Chains and Full-Service Restaurants Increase Calorie Intake

Update Date: Aug 07, 2014 09:14 AM EDT

Even though eating out might be the easier option, it is definitely not the healthier one. A new study examined the health benefits of eating at fast food chains and full-service restaurants. The team reported that when people eat at these locations, they end up consuming more calories, fat and sodium.

In this study, the researchers headed by Binh T. Nguyen of the American Cancer Society and Lisa M. Powell of the University of Illinois at Chicago analyzed recent data on people's eating habits outside of the home as well as the nutritional value of their meals. Data involved more than 12,000 adults between the ages of 20 and 64 who participated in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2003 (NHANES). The survey asked the participants how often they went to a fast food or full-service restaurant on two consecutive days.

The researchers found that during the days when people ate at a fast food or full-service restaurant, they ended up consuming more calories, saturated fat, sugar and sodium. The team also found that increases in net energy intake were larger in African-Americans as opposed to white and Hispanic Americans. Net energy intake was also greater in middle-income adults in comparison to high-income adults.

"The United States is one of the most obese nations in the world, with more than one in three adult men and women in defined as obese," said Dr. Nguyen according to the press release. "Just as obesity rates rise, there's been a marked increase in total energy consumption consumed away from home, with about one in four calories coming from fast food or full service restaurants in 2007. Our study confirms that adults' fast-food and full-service restaurant consumption was associated with higher daily total energy intake and poorer dietary indicators."

The study, "The impact of restaurant consumption among US adults: effects on 2 energy and nutrient intakes," was published in the journal, Public Health Nutrition.

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