Study finds full-service restaurant meals contain higher calories, fat

SAN DIEGO - A new study shows diners consume a stunning number of calories at some "sit-down" chain restaurants.

Researchers from Drexel University and the University of Pennsylvania studied more than 2,600 menu items served at 21 full-service restaurant chains operating in Philadelphia, Pa.

The study was published in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior.

What they found was that the average adult meal at the chains contains about 1,495 calories, 28 grams of saturated fat and 3,512 milligrams of sodium.

This only includes an appetizer and an entree.

If you add in a drink and a dessert, the total surpasses the 2,000 calories you are supposed to consume in a day.

"The need to educate customers about the nutritional content of restaurant foods is acute because consumers increasingly eat away from home, restaurants serve large portions of energy-dense and high-sodium foods, and obesity and the prevalence of other diet-related diseases are high," according to lead researcher Amy Auchincloss, PhD, MPH, of the Drexel University School of Public Health.

Although no guidelines exist for appropriate nutrient levels of full-service restaurant menu items, the study found that about half of the entrees did not meet the study's "healthier" calorie criteria, based on general nutrition advice in the US Dietary Guidelines.

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