Tuesday, October 9, 2007

"Healthy" Restaurants Make Us Fat

Can eating in a "healthy" restaurant actually make you choose to eat more? According to studies by Brian Wansink of Cornell University, people eating at restaurants that advertise themselves as being healthier, consumed more calories than those eating at restaurants that make no such claim.

For instance, customers eating at Subway which advertises lower-fat and calorie items, chose additional side items that added both fat and calories to the meal - 131% more calories. Customers did this more often than diners at other restaurants like McDonalds, and the end result is that diners eating at Subway underestimated the caloric content of their meals.

"In estimating a 1,000 calorie meal, I've found that people on average underestimate by 159 calories if the meal was bought at Subway than at McDonald's," says Wansink. Since it takes an energy imbalance of 3,500 calories to put on one pound, that extra 159 calories could lead to almost a 5-pound weight gain over a year for people eating at Subway twice a week compared with choosing a comparable meal at McDonald's with the same frequency, he says.

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