Restaurant food is much healthier than fast food

London dinner restaurant

Flickr / Ewan Munro

(Reuters Health) – Home cooking remains the best way to control calories, fat, sugar and other nutrients consumed by families, suggests a new US study.

Researchers found that eating food in restaurants – whether fast food outlets or better establishments – resulted in increased calories, fat and sodium compared to meals prepared at home.

According to the study author, public health interventions targeting restaurant behavior in general, rather than just fast food, may be warranted to improve the way Americans eat.

Ruopeng An, professor of kinesiology and community health at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, noted that people had previously equated fast food with junk food.

“But, people don’t know much about the food provided by full-service restaurants and whether it is better or healthier compared to fast food or compared to food prepared and eaten at home,” he said. An told Reuters Health.

For his study in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Data used from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), which routinely collects health and diet information from a representative sample of the U.S. population.

More than 18,000 adults responded to the survey questions about what they ate over a two-day period. About a third of participants said they ate fast food on one or both days, and a quarter said they ate full-service restaurant dishes at least one day.

Compared with participants who ate home-prepared foods, those who frequented fast food outlets consumed an average of 190 more calories per day, 11 grams more fat, 3.5 g more saturated fat, 10 mg more more cholesterol and 300 mg more sodium.

Participants who dined at full-service restaurants ate about 187 more calories per day compared to those who ate home-prepared foods, 10 grams more fat, 2.5 g more saturated fat, nearly 60 mg more cholesterol and more than 400 mg more sodium.

The impact of fast food consumption on total daily calorie intake was greatest among less educated participants, while middle-income participants were more likely to get their extra calories from full-service restaurants.

The participants who were


were also more likely to consume extra calories in full-service restaurants compared to people of normal weight or overweight.

When he compared the calorie and nutritional intake of restaurant foods taken at home to eat, he found that there was not much difference between eating fast food out or at home. , but full-service restaurant meals eaten at home were about 80 calories less, slightly less fat. and about 80 mg less sodium.

The United States Food and Drug Administration requires restaurants at 20 or more locations to provide calorie and nutrient content in menu labeling, but this does not apply to most full-service restaurants, a underlined An. “Thus, people who consume food in full-service restaurants are unaware of the calorie and nutrient content of the food being served (and) are more likely to overeat and are less careful about calories. they consume in the full-service restaurant. “

Lori Rosenthal, dietician at Montefiore Medical Center in New York City, was not surprised by the results.

“When we prepare our own meals, we know exactly what is in the food we eat,” Rosenthal, who was not in the study, told Reuters Health by email.

“When we dine out, we leave the ingredients to the chef or the fast food chain,” she said. “When we make our own, we are in control. “

Rosenthal said cooking at home allows people to make healthy substitutions, such as replacing whole cheese with lower-fat versions.

She added that people are more likely to have “cheat meals” or “splurges” in restaurants than at home, but certain habits can help cut calories.

“Before you go to a restaurant, search for the menu online,” she said. “This helps to avoid succumbing to the pressure of the order before reading all the options. “

Rosenthal also suggests, “Don’t be afraid to ask how menu items are prepared and stick to those baked, broiled, broiled or steamed.” In addition, “Choose dishes that contain vegetables (ie vegetarian omelet, kebabs or primavera pasta) or ask for them to be added.” Vegetables add volume to a meal so that a person feels more satisfied without adding a lot more calories, she said.

Rosenthal advises asking for a take-out container and packing half of a large meal the right way, ordering an appetizer as a meal, or sharing your food with a friend.

“Pay attention and slow down,” she added. “Take the time to chew, taste and savor your food – naturally you will eat less and enjoy your meal more. “

About Vivian J. Smith

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