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From Harvard Medical School and Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Institute

People were asked to estimate the calories in their meals, then the researchers collected their receipts and figured out how many calories the meals actually contained.


· The study found that Teens underestimated the calories in fast-food meals by 34% and parents of school-age children by 23%

· One-fourth of participants underestimated the calories in their meals by at least 500 calories.

· Teens’ fast-food orders contained an average of 756 calories, but they underestimated their orders by an average of 259 calories.

· School-age children got meals that had an average of 733 calories, but their parents’ guestimates were 175 calories too low.

· Diners at Subway underestimated the calories in their orders by a larger amount than diners at McDonald’s, Burger King, KFC, Wendy’s and Dunkin’ Donuts.

So How does Fast food meal compare to home cooked food?

Food Calories Fat
McDonald’s Big Mac 563 33 grams
Medium-sized McDonald’s French fries 384 20
Medium-sized McDonald’s vanilla shake 733 21
Total for one meal 1,680 calories 74 grams
Burger King Whopper with cheese 790 48
Medium-sized Burger King French fries 387 20
Medium-sized Burger King vanilla shake 667 35
Total for one meal 1,844 calories 103 grams
Compare that to a meal prepared at home:
One-half of a roasted chicken breast 142 3 grams
Medium-sized baked white potato 130 0
Half a cup of green peas 67 0
8-ounce glass of 1% milk 102 3
1 cup of unsweetened applesauce 105 0
Total for one meal 546 5 grams

Source: Fact Monster/Information Please® Database, © 2007 Pearson Education, Inc. All rights reserved.

So What can you do about it?

1. Eating fast food once in a while won’t hurt you, but too much of it can cause serious problems.

2. Keep in mind that kids ages 7 to 12 should eat about 2,200 calories per day, while adults should consume around 2,000 calories per day. Exercise levels and current weight can affect these numbers. Note the totals of the single meals at the fast food restaurants comprise almost a full day’s calories!

3. Some options for NOT-SO-BAD Fast Food Meal:

· Grilled Chicken Sandwich and Fruit Cup (Chick-fil-A)

· Chili-Topped Potato (Wendy’s)

· Chicken Teriyaki Bowl (Jack in the Box)

· Southwest Salad and Fruit n Yogurt Parfait (McDonalds)

· Veggie Burger and Garden Salad (Burger King)

· Veggie Delite Sandwich and Tomato Orzo Soup (Subway)

· Fresco Burrito Supreme and Pintos ‘n’ Cheese (Taco Bell)

For more information:

Check out http://www.fastfoodnutrition.org/

or http://caloriecount.about.com/calories-fast-foods-ic2100