Drexel Study: One Restaurant Meal Could Cost You All Your Daily Calories

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Oh, my. A new study out of Drexel University School of Public Health found that restaurant meals often pack waaaay more calories and sodium than you probably think.

Researchers looked at nutrition data for food at 21 chain restaurants in Philly, including Olive Garden, Denny’s, Red Lobster and Pizza Hut. Here’s what they found:




On average, adult meals (entree, side dish and half an appetizer) on menus averaged 75 per cent to 100 percent of calories for an entire day at 1,500 calories, according to a summary provided by the researchers.

For sodium, the average adult meal exceeded daily recommended levels by 153 per cent, with 3,510 milligrams.

The findings for kid's meals were equally alarming. A child-size entrée, side and drink clocked in, on average, at 690 calories, nearly half the recommended daily allotment. Sodium levels averaged 1,380 milligrams, accounting for 86 percent of the recommended intake, and saturated fat 10 grams—that's 71 percent of the per-day recommendations.

What's more, researchers also looked at menu items slugged as healthier choices. While those items had fewer calories than regular menu items, they were still off the charts for saturated fat and sodium.

Now, obviously you're not eating at Pizza Hut and Denny's on a regular basis (you're not, right?), but studies like this serve as a reminder that calories, fat and, especially, sodium, can add up more quickly than you might expect. Also? Cook your own meals whenever you can. After all, if you're making it, you control what goes in it.

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  • http://www.greenphillyblog.com/ Julie

    This isn’t surprising to me (unfortunately), but have you found any studies for smaller restaurants or food joints? I wonder what the difference is when eating at local businesses… Would be an interesting study! :-)