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Obesity (Silver Spring). 2009 Jul;17(7):1369-74. doi: 10.1038/oby.2009.90. Epub 2009 Apr 2.

What people buy from fast-food restaurants: caloric content and menu item selection, New York City 2007.

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1
New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, Bureau of Chronic Disease Prevention and Control, New York, New York, USA. tdumanov@health.nyc.gov

Abstract

Fast-food restaurants provide a growing share of daily food intake, but little information is available in the public health literature about customer purchases. In order to establish baseline data on mean calorie intake, this study was completed in the Spring of 2007, before calorie labeling regulations went into effect in New York City. Receipts were collected from lunchtime customers, at randomly selected New York City fast-food chains. A supplementary survey was also administered to clarify receipt items. Calorie information was obtained through company websites and ascribed to purchases. Lunchtime purchases for 7,750 customers averaged 827 calories and were lowest for sandwich chains (734 calories); and highest for chicken chains (931 calories). Overall, one-third of purchases were over 1,000 calories, predominantly from hamburger chains (39%) and chicken chains (48%); sandwich chains were the lowest, with only 20% of purchases over 1,000 calories. "Combination meals" at hamburger chains accounted for 31% of all purchases and averaged over 1,200 calories; side orders accounted for almost one-third of these calories. Lunch meals at these fast-food chains are high in calorie content. Although calorie posting may help to raise awareness of the high calories in fast-food offerings, reducing portion sizes and changing popular combination meals to include lower calorie options could significantly reduce the average calorie content of purchases.

PMID:
19343015
DOI:
10.1038/oby.2009.90
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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