Diners of All Ages Underestimating Fast-Food Calorie Intake
Teenage and adult diners are misjudging the number of calories in their fast-food meals by at least 500 calories, according to a study published in the British Medical Journal on Thursday. The study found that teens underestimate fast-food calories by 34 percent; parents of school-age children by 23 percent; and adults by 20 percent, according to lead researcher Jason Block of Harvard Medical School and Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Institute, as stated in a recent USA Today article.
The study, conducted in 2010 and 2011, focused on approximately 3,400 adults, teens and parents of school-age children who visited 89 fast-food restaurants, including McDonald's, Burger King, KFC, Subway, Dunkin' Donuts and Wendy's. Individuals were asked to estimate the calories in their meals, and then those numbers were compared to the actual calorie amounts in the meals consumed. The research noted that teens' fast-food orders averaged 756 calories, and they underestimated their calorie intake by about 259 calories. The adults' meals contained an average of 836 calories, and they underestimated by approximately 175 calories. "These large underestimations show that diners don't really know what they are eating in terms of calorie content, and they need this information to help guide their choices," Block told USA Today.
This fast-food study was funded in part by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
Sherri Shepherd: How I Cope With Diabetes
Kale and cauliflower don't exactly inspire big laughs – unless you're talking to Sherri Shepherd.
"If you had told me a few years ago that I'd be liking kale, I'd have laughed you out of the room," she said during a recent phone interview, her voice rising with vigor. "Freaking kale? Let's face it, when you break up with someone, you do not want a bowl of asparagus. I've never heard anybody say, 'I'm so depressed, can you give me a plate of asparagus and broccoli?'"
But as she describes in her new book, "Plan D: How to Lose Weight and Beat Diabetes (Even if You Don't Have It)," getting acquainted with those veggies became necessary. Shepherd, a comedian and co-host of ABC's "The View," was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes in 2007. The formal diagnosis came after years of ignoring doctors' warnings that she was prediabetic – a wakeup call that led to her current pro-veggie mindset: "The other night, my husband sautéed the kale in olive oil with green, red and yellow peppers," she said. "And it was good! So now I'm a kale addict. I always challenge people to do things that are a little bit different with their veggies." [Read more: Sherri Shepherd: How I Cope With Diabetes]
Salt in the Sweet Spot
Depending on your taste preferences for food, and food for thought alike, you either welcomed the recent Institute of Medicine report on salt indicating the lack of evidence for intake levels below 2,300 milligrams per day, or winced. I have a fairly centrist palate in both contexts and wound up taking the report with, well, a grain of salt, writes U.S. News blogger David Katz. We'll get back to my palate, and why the one thing I can't stomach is nutritional ping-pong, before the end. First, let's consider the report itself.
A special committee of the Institute of Medicine was convened at the request of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to examine the recent evidence relating sodium intake to health outcomes. The IOM committee did not conduct any new research. Its charge was to review the prior literature, with particular attention to the following: methodological rigor of available studies; relevance of the data to the population at large and particular high-risk groups such as those with diabetes or congestive heart failure. The committee also looked at the links between variation in sodium intake and variation in decisive health events, such as heart attack or stroke, rather than risk factors like high blood pressure.
The committee's provocative conclusion was that evidence to support a clear health benefit for the population at large from reducing sodium intake below 2,300 milligrams a day is lacking. It further suggested that available evidence, while limited in quality, quantity and consistency, hinted at potential harms for the high-risk groups when reducing daily sodium intake to 1,500 milligrams or below. The committee thus suggested that a target of 2,300 milligrams is, for now at least, appropriate for everyone – and that lower could potentially be ill-advised. [Read more: Salt in the Sweet Spot]