- Author: Jeannette E. Warnert
A new study of food items from national chain restaurants found that calorie counts on menus and websites were accurate on average, but 19 percent of individual samples differed from laboratory measurements by more than 100 calories, according to a news release.
The study, led by Tufts University researchers, was published by the Journal of the American Medical Association yesterday and was reported on widely by the news media. Los Angeles Times reporter Daniela Hernandez sought comment from UC Cooperative Extension nutrition, family and consumer sciences advisor Susan Algert.
"This may be a word of caution that people are always better off eating at home," Algert was quoted.
Among the Tufts study's conclusions:
- On average, food items measured ten calories higher than the restaurants’ stated calories.
- Items often viewed as healthier from both sit-down and fast food restaurants, such as salads and soups, tended to have more unreliable calorie listings.
- Stated calories for fast food tended to be closer to laboratory measurements than the stated calories for food from sit-down restaurants.
- Food purchased in restaurants accounts for one-third of the average American’s daily food intake.
The Tufts news release said restaurants could help ease the obesity crisis by offering more calorie listings, making sure low-calorie foods do not contain more calories than stated, and providing a wider selection of lower calorie items.