We’re in Trouble, Philly: Sandwich Eaters Consume Excessive Calories, Sodium



I’m sure this happens to you. Whenever non-Philadelphians ask me where I live and tell them I live in Philly, their first response is something like, “Oooh, do you just love cheesesteaks, then?” Occasionally I’ll get a question about a hoagie or a roast pork sandwich, or even about whether or not I get my bread exclusively from Sarcone’s (the answer is no). But what all of these queries point to is the same underlying thread: that Philly is undeniably a sandwich town. And according to a new study, that’s not such a good thing.

New research published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics found that sandwich eaters consume more calories and sodium on average than non-sandwich eaters. It’s a pretty big deal when you consider that 49 percent of American adults (more men than women, I should point out) say they eat at least one sandwich a day.

Here’s the breakdown: Sandwich eaters were found to take in an average of 300 extra calories on the days they ate sandwiches, compared to the non-sandwich set, and an extra 600 milligrams of sodium than their non-sandwich-eating counterparts. Add that up over a week of sandwich eating and, well, you’ve got some pretty significant numbers on your hands.

Sandwiches—which, for this study, were defined broadly to include things like burgers and hot dogs, as well as “traditional” sandwiches like ham and cheese—were also found to account for a fifth of a day’s sodium allotment. Listen to this, from a press release about the study:

The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend a maximum intake of 2,300 milligrams of sodium per day. For certain groups – adults over 50, African-Americans, and those with certain medical conditions, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, or chronic kidney disease – the recommended amount is reduced to 1,500 milligrams per day. This study revealed that, for adults, sandwiches alone contribute 30 percent of the less restrictive guideline and 46 percent of the stricter guideline.

As a reminder, children, too much sodium can cause high blood pressure and increase your risk for heart disease and stroke. Heart disease and stroke are the first and third leading causes of death in Philly, according to the city’s Department of Public Health.

“The unanticipated finding that sandwich consumption is associated with higher overall intake of energy [i.e. calories] underscores the importance of making healthful choices of sandwich ingredients,” said study co-author and registered Cecilia Wilkinson Enns in a press release. “Many sandwiches, such as burgers and franks, and common sandwich components, such as yeast breads, cheese, and cured meats, are among the top contributors not only to sodium but also to energy in the diets of adult Americans.”

Including, it goes without saying, Philadelphians.

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