December 18, 2008

Home-cooking beats restaurants in calories

Fast-food and table-service meals at restaurants are both larger and have more calories than meals prepared at home, U.S. researchers have learned.

James K. Binkley of Purdue University used data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Continuing Survey of Food Intakes by Individuals, which is the most recently available large sample of information regarding nutritional intake, to analyze fast-food, table-service restaurant meals and meals prepared at home.

Binkley also found the typical fast-food meal is smaller and has fewer calories than the average meal from a table-service restaurant. Fast-food was found to be more energy dense than food from a table-service restaurant. However, Binkley found that fast-food meals tend to be smaller.

The study, published in the winter issue of the Review of Agricultural Economics, found that the typical fast-food meal had fewer calories than the average meal from a table-service restaurant, whether the diner is an adult, teenager or child.

The researchers said they were surprised that fast-food had the largest effects for adults, and that children's caloric intakes were greatest when they ate at table-service restaurants.