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Individual and small-chain restaurant meals exceed recommended daily calorie needs
Date:5/13/2013

BOSTON, MA (EMBARGOED UNTIL Monday, May 13, 2013, 4pm EDT) As the restaurant industry prepares to implement new rules requiring chains with 20 or more locations to post calorie content information, the results of a new study suggest that it would be beneficial to public health for all restaurants to provide consumers with the nutritional content of their products. Researchers at the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging (HNRCA) at Tufts University analyzed meals from independent and small-chain restaurants, which account for approximately 50% of the nation's restaurant locations but will be exempt from the new federal rules. They found that the average single meal contained two to three times the estimated calorie needs of an individual adult at a single meal and 66% of typical daily calorie requirements. The findings were published today in JAMA Internal Medicine.

Using the bomb calorimetry method, researchers analyzed 157 full meals, including side dishes, from 33 randomly selected individual or small-chain restaurants within 15 miles of downtown Boston, Massachusetts; all restaurants had an online menu but did not provide nutritional information. Researchers collected samples from the most popular food choices in the nine most common restaurant types: Mexican, American, Chinese, Italian, Japanese, Thai, Indian, Greek and Vietnamese. The study was conducted between June and August 2011. Specific meal items selected for the study were identified based on customer rankings and from internet searches for popular foods.

"On average, the meals studied contained 1,327 calories, which significantly exceeds the estimated energy needs of an individual adult at a single meal," said senior and corresponding author Susan B. Roberts, Ph.D., director of the Energy Metabolism Laboratory at the HNRCA. "Meals from all restaurant types provided substantially more energy than is needed for weight maintenance."

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Contact: Jennifer Kritz
617-636-3707
Tufts University, Health Sciences Campus
Source:Eurekalert

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