Study Finds Restaurant Food Isn't Much Better For You Than Fast Food

People who eat at full-service restaurants are consuming nearly as many calories as fast food customers.

According to Yahoo! News, a new study found both of these options offer considerably more fat, cholesterol and sodium than home-cooked meals.

Ruopeng An, a professor of kinesiology and community health at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, obtained data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, which studied the eating habits of more than 18,000 American adults.

In a two-day period, approximately a third of participants ate fast food at least one of the days while a quarter ate full-service restaurant food at least one time.

The participants who ate fast food consumed 190 more calories per day, 11 more grams of fat, 10 more mg of cholesterol and 300 more mg of sodium than those who ate home-cooked meals.

In comparison, those who ate at full-service restaurants consumed 187 more calories, 10 more grams of fat, nearly 60 more mg of cholesterol and at least 400 mg more sodium than those who dined at home.

Obese participants were more likely to consume more calories at full-service restaurants, and the least educated participants consumed the most calories from fast food.

According to The Washington Post, An concluded,

[Y]ou may be at higher risk of overeating in a full-service restaurant than when eating fast food.

He suggested this could be because one often spends more time eating and talking at full-service restaurants compared to fast food restaurants, The Washington Post reports.

Lori Rosenthal, a dietitian at Montefiore Medical Center in New York City, noted restaurants typically do not offer low-fat versions of items that can be found at a grocery store.

She purportedly said,

Before heading to a restaurant look up the menu online. This helps to avoid succumbing to the pressure of ordering before reading all of the options.

An, on the other hand, believes Americans are so misinformed about the quality of restaurant food, a public intervention may be the only way for diners to fully understand the reality of their dietary choices.

His study was originally published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Citations: Restaurant food not much healthier than fast food (Yahoo! News), Restaurant meals may be as full of fat calories cholesterol and sodium as fast food study says (The Washington Post)