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Study: Calories From Fast Food Miscalculated By Teens

A new research reveals that teenagers underestimate the amount of calories that they take from fast food.

Lead researcher Dr. Jason Block shared how people have miscalculated their calorie count. “We found that people, especially teens, are consuming more calories than they think they’re getting when they eat fast food,” Block said in a press release.

The study entitled “Consumers’ Estimation of Calorie Content at Fast Food Restaurants” was funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) through its Healthy Eating Research program, and conducted by the Harvard Medical School/Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Institute in partnership with the Public Health Departments of Connecticut and Massachusetts.

The study was conducted on about 3,400 respondents consisting of school-aged children, teenagers, and adults. According to the survey, teens underestimate the calories in their fast food meals by about 34 percent. This means that respondents who ordered fast food at an average of 756 calories estimated their calorie intake at only 497, resulting to an underestimation of 259 calories. Meanwhile, parents miscalculate by 23 percent and adults in general by almost 20 percent.

The survey also compared food chains. Results showed that customers of Subway underestimated their calories the most, as compared to those who ordered in McDonalds, Burger King, Dunkin Donuts, KFC, and Wendy’s. Block suspects that the misleading information could be brought about by Subway’s apparently healthier food options.

Block stressed the importance of accurate information to customers. “People who eat at fast-food restaurants may not be making informed choices because they don’t know how many calories they’re consuming.” He further said that if customers are informed, then they can make better decisions for a healthier lifestyle.


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