Nutritional Value of Fast Foods Have Not Improved
A new study that looked into the nutritional quality of menu items offered at eight popular fast-food restaurants shows that there has only been modest improvements over the last14 years.
The researchers analyzed the menus from 1997- 2010, which came from Burger King, McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC), Taco Bell, Arby’s, Dairy Queen, and Jack in the Box. Using the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Healthy Eating Index to evaluate the nutritional quality of the menu items served in these fast food chains, they found that the score for all these restaurants increased from 45 to 48 during the study period. Although the scores improved for saturated fat, meat, and calories from added sugars and solid fats, scores for sodium and milk/dairy got worse. Menu scores did not improve for fruit, vegetables, whole grains, and oils.
The investigators also found that the overall nutritional quality score (48) associated with the eight restaurants fall below that of the average American diet (55). The study, which was recently published online in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine states that this score is far from ideal according to USDA standards. Lead investigator Mary Hearst, an associate professor of public health at St. Catherine University in St. Paul, Minn., believes that there is a need to improve the nutritional quality of menu offerings in fast-food restaurant chains because of the role fast food plays in Americans’ diets.
The authors note that more than 25% of American adults consume fast food at least twice a week. Although the modest improvements in the restaurants’ menus are consistent with legislative efforts (like banning trans fat) and the industry’s own commitments about creating healthier menu options, Hearst believes there is much room for improvement.
Preidt, R. Fast Food Hasn’t Gotten Much Healthier, Study Says. HealthDay News.