Most restaurant meals contain more salt, fats than previously thought

  • May-14-2013
  • Richard Reich
salt and fat in food

A recent study conducted by a team at the University of Toronto contained some sobering facts for folks who enjoy eating out at least once a week. According to the findings, the average meal purchased from a restaurant contains far more salt, calories and fats that previously expected. The researchers suggested that rising obesity rates in the United States and abroad could be at least partially attributed to these factors.

Another report, written by a group at Tufts University in Massachusetts, alleged similar results – that most choices from small restaurants contain more than 2,000 calories, which is the daily caloric intake encouraged by the U.S. government to maintain a healthy body weight. By analyzing 157 menu choices in the Boston area, the Tufts researchers concluded that the average person would receive a day’s worth of calories in a single sitting if they selected any of the options tested. Similar findings were noted in the Toronto area in terms of calories.

Salt levels were also very high in the majority of restaurant meals in both Boston and Toronto, accounting for an average of 151 percent of a person’s suggested daily intake. Interestingly, local or small-chain establishments generally served meals with more salts and calories than nationally branded restaurants, the twin studies found.

“In all of the meal categories there are huge ranges in calories, sodium and fats,” Mary Scourboutakos, the lead author of the Toronto study, said in a statement. “You really don’t know [how to avoid these higher levels] unless there is calories labeling or sodium labeling. There is no way to predict which meals are going to be the worst.”

Folks who are actively trying to avoid unhealthy food should scrutinize their choices at restaurants, as excessive salt and calories can lead to obesity, a condition which is a serious risk factor for a number of chronic diseases. However, it’s always helpful to be prepared for the future, which includes a life insurance policy that can protect your loved ones financially should you pass away.

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