July 21, 2011

Restaurant Calorie Counts Wrong

(Ivanhoe Newswire)--Preventing obesity could be as simply as the availability of accurate information. Obesity has become more prevalent in the United States and a contributor to this are the endless fast food and sit down restaurants available. But what if by selecting foods with lower energy contents you could lose the extra weight. Reducing energy intake has been proven to prevent and treat obesity. However, this is largely dependent on the accuracy of information that restaurants give for their foods.

Lorien E. Urban, Ph.D. of Tufts University in Boston and her colleagues conducted a study to evaluate the overall accuracy of restaurant stated energy contents. Food from 42 restaurants were ordered as a take out meal and subsequently analyzed at a laboratory for caloric content. These restaurants and food items were selected at random from quick serve and sit down restaurants in Massachusetts, Arkansas, and Indiana. Of the 269 food items tested, 40 percent had measured energy contents of at least ten calories per portion higher than what was stated and52 percent had measured energy contents at least ten calories per portion lower than the stated energy contents.

Researchers determined that there was a significantly greater variability in the discrepancy between the stated and measured energy contents of all the foods that were tested. Foods with lower energy contents actually contained higher measured energy contents while foods with higher stated energy contents contained lower measured energy. The authors of this study suggest that a potential reason why foods have inaccurate stated energy contents may be poor quality control of portion size.

Lorien E. Urban was quotes saying, "Although our study showed that stated energy contents in restaurants are relatively accurate on average, thus supporting greater availability of this information, projected benefits for preventing weight gain and facilitating weight loss are likely to be reduced if restaurant foods with lower stated energy contents provide more energy content than stated. Additional portion control in restaurants has the potential to facilitate individual efforts to reduce energy intake and to help resolved the national obesity epidemic."

SOURCE: JAMA, July 19, 2011