Study: Fast Food Has Actually Gotten Worse For Your Health

More calories, more sodium, and more choices

Photo by NeONBRAND via Unsplash

They don’t make fast food like they used to. In the case of calorie counts of menu items, this is literally true. According to a new study, fast food has increased by 30 calories over the course of the past 30 years, while desserts have seen a 62 calorie hike.

Published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the study examined 10 different restaurants and their food in 1986, 1991, and 2016. Arby’s, Burger King, Carl’s Jr, Dairy Queen, Hardee’s, Jack in the Box, KFC, Long John Silver’s, McDonald’s and Wendy’s were all put under the microscope in the study.

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Not only did calories rise, so did sodium content with a 4.6 percent increase per decade of daily recommended values. While the size of side dishes remained the same, portions for entrees rose by 13 grams per decade and 24 grams for desserts. In addition, menu items have all increased by staggering amounts. Over the time period of the researchers’ focus, entrée, sides, and dessert items increased by 226 percent, or 22.9 more menu items a year.

“Despite the vast number of choices offered at fast food restaurants, some of which are healthier than others, the calories, portion sizes and sodium content overall have worsened over time and remain high,” the study’s lead investigator, Megan McCroy, said in a statement.

Authors of the study researched fast food because Americans eat an exorbitant amount of it. Nearly 40 percent of American adults have eaten fast food in the past 24 hours, a different study indicated. More surprisingly, fast food intake tends to rise with similar increases in income levels.

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Meanwhile, another study showed the consumption of “ultra-processed” foods like sugar cereal and candy directly impacted your chances of getting cancer.

“Given the popularity of fast food, our study highlights one of the changes in our food environment that is likely part of the reason for the increase in obesity and related chronic conditions over the past several decades, which are now among the main causes of death in the U.S.,” McCroy said.

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