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Restaurants Misrepresent Calories on Menus
By Theresa Delay at

Many restaurants and fast food restaurants have begun listing calorie counts on their menus, to comply with some state regulations and to help consumers get an accurate idea of what they’re eating. This information should be used by consumers to make educated and well thought-out decisions about their meals. It’s supposed to help curb the obesity trend by allowing the Americans to enjoy eating out without entirely giving up on their nutrition goals.

A new study was published in the Journal of American Medical Association that sheds light on the accuracy of this addition to menus across the country. According to CBS News, nearly 20 percent of restaurant menus contain inaccurate calorie counts. In most instances, the laboratory results revealed as little as 10 calorie difference. However, some menu items (also close to 20 percent) contained more than 100 calories over what the menu claimed. The dish with the highest discrepancy was found to have over 1,000 calories than the amount stated on the menu.
Overall, the fast food chains had more accurate calorie estimations than sit-down restaurants, perhaps because items that are packaged off-site are more uniformly prepared. Although highly processed and mass produced food typically less nutritious than fresh food, it does ensure an accurate reporting of calories. When food is freshly prepared in the kitchen, a there’s a larger margin or error because of inconsistency between chefs at different locations.

There are many reasons not to eat at fast food chains, calorie inaccuracies aside. It would be better to eat a healthy, reasonable diet (even with indulgences) rather than counting the calories in junk food. A McDonald’s burger or a Wendy’s frosty aren’t healthy either way. More importantly, this study reminds of the importance of knowing about the food you put in to your body. Knowing basic nutritional information, where the food comes from and how the dish is prepared, will help you make wise decisions in any situation.

When you chose to eat a meal out, whether it be drive-thru or sit-down, it’s probably better to overestimate the number of calories you’re consuming. Eat just a little bit less and focus more on quality over quantity because you can’t always count on the calorie estimation of a dish.

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