Fast-food restaurants have been getting a bad rap for years, and rightfully so; between the high fat and sodium contents and the urging to “supersize it,” fast-food has been a strong contributor to this country’s obesity epidemic. However, the vilification of fast-food restaurants has led many diners to assume that all other restaurant food is okay, which is of course not the case. Ingredients are ingredients no matter how quickly they’re served and consumed.
The “breaking news” about the unhealthiness of many sit-down restaurants is the result of a 2015 study published by the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign professor Ruopeng An in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition. It shows that people eating out at either fast-food or sit-down restaurants consumed an average of 200 more calories per day than those who ate at home. They also consumed more cholesterol, more sodium, and more total fat. The surprising data is that people who ate at sit-down restaurants actually consumed more sodium and cholesterol than those who ate at fast-food restaurants.
An, who studied seven years of data from the CDC’s National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, suggests that the social nature of dining out lends itself to extended meals, giving people time to consume more food and drink. Further, all the bad press given to fast-food restaurants may encourage people to feel that sit-down restaurants are a healthier option, without actually considering the nutritional content of their meals.
One answer to this problem may come in the form of new federal nutritional labeling regulations that go into effect in December of 2016. Under the regulations, all chain restaurants (those with more than 20 locations with the same name) will need to post nutritional information for all standard menu items. A similar local law in Washington State saw calorie awareness triple and calorie consumption decline, so hopes are high that these results can be replicated on a larger scale.
The federal labeling regulations also apply to vending machines, but USConnect is far out ahead of the game on that one. Our Bistro To Go kiosks and vending machines already provide nutritional information, and our The Right Choice…For a Healthier You™ program helps lead diners in the right direction.