Eat Out At Your Own Risk! Study Warns

 
11-Jun-2012 by

Eating Out 1This blog is going to tell you what you have already been told a hundred times, or, probably, a thousand times. Eating out is going to do no good to your health and to that of your family’s. This is because nine-in-10 entrees served at restaurants do not meet the nutrition recommendations put down by the Federal government. A provocative study, conducted by the “Rand Corporation,” has revealed that  you are likely to invite serious health issues for yourself if you choose to eat out more often. Read on to know more about the dismal report.

 

 

1) The Report

 

The study, which was conducted over a period of 18 months, was funded by the “Robert Wood Johnson Foundation” and the “Rand Corporation” went to 245 top restaurant chains in the US and examined more than 30,000 menu items. To quote lead researcher of the study, Helen Wu, the findings were abysmal. The researchers examined appetizers, main dishes, as well as desserts on the menus. This study reminds one of a similar study conducted years ago, which concluded that eating out more frequently could up your diabetes risk. Now, with the fact proved that the restaurant meals are calorie-rich, only substantiates such fears for the public. And this goes for both adults as well as children. It is, therefore, a matter of national concern as more and more families choose to eat out rather than cooking at home. The study was published online in the “Public Health Nutrition” journal.

 

 

2) The Findings

 

The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) has laid down daily limits of calories, sodium, saturated fat, and fat content, which is necessary for maintaining an ideal health of an individual. This would, therefore, be shocking to know that 96%, or almost all, of the main entrees at the surveyed restaurants exceeded the USDA limits. The study terms appetizers as “calorie bombs”, which are an average of 813 calories while the main entrees averaged 674 calories per serving. The worst part of the study is that the so-called family restaurants are no better than the fast-food chains. Wu said that entrees at these restaurants had 16gms more fat, 271 more calories, and 435mgms more sodium than the entrees served at fast-food restaurants. So, you see, the fast-food chains are not the only culprits in making America obese.

 

 

3) Expert Speak

 

The lead researchers says that it is the “little extras” that you order with your meal, whether for yourself, your spouse or your children, that are the real culprits in upping the calorific quotient of your meal. Be it the shakes, floats, health drinks, or sides, beware of these because they add up the calorie-count for you. Moreover, avoiding items like crispy, buttered, cheesy, pan-seared, breaded, etc., should be seriously avoided because it was found that these items contained more calories than the original ones. The restaurant industry has been arguing against such findings for a long time. Just like it did though Joan McGlockton, vice president of food policy at the “National Restaurant Association,” who said that the industry was “employing a wide range” of healthier alternatives to help people eat out without the health risk. Wu counters that by saying that the “Healthy Dining” seal of approval, on part of the industry, was “too generous on sodium.” The seal of approval allows 2,000mgms of sodium for one entrée, which the USDA’s total daily recommendation of sodium for adults is 2,300 mgms. This means that you need to eat just one restaurant entrée a day to complete your sodium intake. Now that can hardly be called practical.

 

 

4) The Challenges Eating Out 2

 

Now the main challenge lies in the fact that eating out of home is, in the present times, more of a necessity than a luxury simply because of more and more people living away from their homes, or families short on time. In this scenario, it becomes difficult to propagate to Americans that they should not eat out that often. It almost sounds like injustice. Measures such as putting ban on super-sized soda drinks, a la Bloomberg’s NYC ban, are not feasible because the public usually does not react favorably to such blanket decisions. Therefore, eating out becomes more of a challenge, than a fun activity, especially for health-conscious Americans. Therefore Wu suggests that “the restaurant industry needs to make big changes to be part of the solution.”

 

It has come to notice that the US Food and Drug Administration is going to publish final regulations regarding chains to put calorie counts on menus and provide more information if the customer asks for it. This might be helpful because the study also revealed that not all restaurant chains are doing so, despite Federal guidelines. Well, till that happens, how about using these tips for dining out healthy?

 

Image Courtesy: frugalicious.net, ttfatloss.com

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