www.huffingtonpost.com - December 3rd, 2012
We at Healthy Living have long known that the 'healthy' items on fast food menus can be anything but. And now, a new study has confirmed that observation: although menus grew between 1996 and 2010 to include 53 percent more items, the average number of calories in each item hasn't changed significantly.
The major growth area on menus during this 14-year period has been toward "healthy" salads, yogurt parfaits and other lighter-seeming fare. Unfortunately, these items aren't rendered less caloric merely by the addition of iceberg lettuce or apple slices.
"Entree salads, which are increasing in number, can be bad, too. With fried chicken on top and regular dressing, they can have more calories than a burger," lead researcher Katherine Bauer, an assistant professor in the department of public health at Temple University, told HealthDay.
As part of their study, which appeared in the latest issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, Bauer and team analyzed the menus of eight national fast food restaurants -- McDonald's, Burger King, Wendy's, Taco Bell, KFC, Arby's, Jack in the Box and Dairy Queen -- using the University of Minnesota Nutrition Coordinating Center Food and Nutrient Database. They found little difference in the average calorie value of entrees, which clocked in at an average 453 for things like salads and sandwiches. Side dishes like fries, soups and bread maintained an average 263 calories. The researchers did find a slight increase in the caloric values of drinks and condiments.