A new study in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine takes a look at a host of popular American fast-food establishments to see if they've improved, nutritionally, in the past decade and a half. They have! Technically! Also technically: they are still way below average.
The team used the Healthy Eating Index, a tool created by the US Department of Agriculture that essentially measures how well a given diet matches up with a list of dietary guidelines, also created by the Department of Agriculture. The HEI, as it's usually called, awards points for a diet that includes more of certain items (dark green vegetables, whole grains, seafood) and also points for less of other items (refined grains, sodium, and the vague "empty calories"). The average American diet scores in the low 50s, typically, which is, um, not good, considering that the scale is out of 100.
The HEI began in 1995, and eight key fast-food restaurants, including McDonald's, Wendy's, Taco Bell, KFC, and the other biggies, have HEI data starting in 1997. The study compares that score with a new score from the 2009/2010 year, and finds that over those 14 years, the scores barely rose. In 1997, those restaurants averaged a score of 45; 14 years later, they averaged 48. Still below average, and still pretty awful, despite new menu items like salads and wraps entering the menu. Maybe because those salads aren't actually healthful at all?
An accompanying article says, "this tiny increase is disappointing, and a bit surprising." Well, maybe not surprising.
But it's sooooo goooood...
3 unnecessary addictive things are added to fast food, sugar and salt for our human taste addiction, followed by hydrogenated saturated fat to lower cost to the restaurant in cooking.
If you eliminate these from fast food and your life, you will be far better off!
Just to let you know, coconut oil is a 'healthy' saturaded fat with medium chain of glycerides. Google it and find all the good things about cooking with coconut oil!
Raynre, I wonder if you've had good food to compare against fast food. It is nasty!
I don't think we should be surprised that fast food is unhealthy. Their goal is to sell as much food as possible at the highest price possible, not to sell healthy food or quality food. We shouldn't demonize or deride them for this except when they try to pass off what they serve as healthy.
I don't think anyone biting into a Big Mac thinks "This is good for me!" It's crap food, but it's cheap and readily available. The fact that it is normal fare shows how far we've fallen culinarily in this country, but that is the problem of the public for accepting meat-colored cardboard as food.
As an aside, I worked at McDonald's for a year. Written on the side of a box full of frozen sausage patties was the label "This box contains at least 45% post-consumer waste" which about sums it up.
What do they want then?
Everyone to go to expensive restaurants, buy quality healty food you have to wait for up to half an hour and pay a small fortune for, while at the same time half of the food just tastes crap.
Just like the "but cheap food and sausages aint healthy for you" - but what do you do if you have the optio nto buy 500g of "unhealthy cheap" sausage for lets say 0,65€ and 350g of quality sausage for 1.96€. Unless you have great income and aint poor/uneployed.. you can afford to choose the quality one.
People would eat healty if it were available fast at equal cost and would actually taste good - most dont like to eat blend green leaves and pretty tastless vegetables thats usually available.
If goverment and those agencies are so "worried" then open up your own foodchain with competitive prices and healthy food and speed.
Is Fast Food good for you? Nope. So is a lot of non-fast food. There is a lot more behind the obesity epidemic than fast food.
I'm sure most readers have seen "Supersize Me"
Here is an 'actual' documentary in response to it. If you want a fun watch, and a good bit of insight to some of the problems driving the obesity epidemic, copy the link and enjoy.
Synopsis: Ate Fast Food for 30 days, lost body fat, lowered blood pressure, blood cholesterol slightly lowered. Main thrust is that due to prices, and government advisory boards, we have significantly increased starch intake over the last 30 years. The sugar spikes have led us to become more insulin resistant, making us fatter and more diabetic.
I'm with lifestream on this one. I eat fast food all the time because I am poor and I don't have the time to go out to eat or cook proper meals.
I constantly get ragged on by people for eating shitty food, their suggestions include "Don't shop at Wal-Mart go to a local produce shop!" or "Buy free-ranged chicken/beef/whatever!" or "Just buy the ingredients and cook it yourself!". Well the sad truth is, as a student I can't afford to go shopping once a week, or spend the hour I need to cook a proper meal. I can however afford the $4 meal I get at McDonald's and the 10 mins it takes to get that food. Not all of us have the ability to live healthy and hell some of us like to eat the food too. As long as no one blames someone else for what they eat it shouldn't be a problem. If I want to eat something disgusting I'm gonna damn well eat something disgusting.
Most people eat fast food because they are in a hurry. Ironically, fast food shortens your lifespan. The more you eat, the less time you have.
Ok, no one is allowed to say "I'm poor so I have to eat fast food" because if you're poor, you can't afford fast food. Poor people eat rice, beans, bananas and occasionally some meat.
Mike, I was a full-time student working a full time job with 3 kids and still had time to cook myself food. You can't use that excuse.
If you spend $4 per meal, even just once a day, that is $28 per week. Coincidentally, that's what I spend per week per person in my household buying real, healthy food for breakfast, lunch and dinner ($140 per week for 5 adult-sized people)
Get some eggs ($3), milk ($3), bread ($1), peanut butter ($3), bananas ($2), a bag of potatoes ($2), oatmeal ($2) (not the packets), rice ($2), frozen spinach ($1), and frozen peas ($1). Boom. $20. That will give you breakfast, lunch and dinner all week and still give you some wiggle room to buy snacks (or chicken) for less money than you'd spend on one fast food meal per day.
Don't tell me you're too poor to buy real food. And all of this stuff (depending on how you cook the eggs) can be started and cook on its own while you're studying.
if governments are too greedy to provide low cost healthy foods for students, elderly, disabled and poor, then they should shut the hell up about not having money for the huge obesity and diabetes epidemic and admit they are stupid idiots.
Did you really just write "those salads aren't actually healthful at all?" What's the difference nutritionally between a McDonald's salad, an Olive Garden salad, a bagged salad from the produce section of the grocery store and one grown in your own garden? Nothing. They're exactly the same nutritionally: lots of fiber, vitamins and minerals.
And here's a clue: if you just eat salad all day long, you will die. You need more than vegetables for sustenance, like grains, protein, fat (vegetable or animal), and basically calories, which a raw salad has almost none of. So slather on some dressing and condiments and be happy.
You can eat surprisingly healthfully at a fast food restaurant as long as you make sensible choices.
@ppardee I'm happy that such a diet works for you and your family, and I wish it worked for me, but theres nothing on that list that has any measure of the chin dripping, salivation inducing grease (i.e. animal-sourced saturated fat) that makes up the main focus of a meal for me. I would seriously have to eat 2 pounds of anything on that list per meal, and I would only feel full, not actually satisfied from eating it. And I'm not the only one. You can't simply tell a 15-30yo-aged male to eat potatoes and beans; we want, nay, NEED meat and fat! And unless you get your kicks eating whole sticks of butter and bags upon bags of jerky (good, but expensive), neither fat nor meat is cheap, fast, or easy/clean to prepare in a confined space......unless you get it via fast food. Personally, I can't stand most fast food, and being in grad school I don't have to rely on it, as I have the time and resources needed to prepare my own predominantly meat and vegetable centric diet. But I feel for those that don't have this luxury. I know how its like to be in college, be busy and be poor, especially if you aren't good at planning your time well (and most people aren't/can't); It's not conducive to preparing homemade meals or going shopping. Fast food is sometimes the only option.
BTW, I'm in no way obese or unhealthy, and my bp was damn close to 120/80 last time I had a checkup, so save the ad hominem for another time if you were planning on using it in retaliation.
Food for thought from last week as another explanation: http://www.popsci.com/science/article/2013-05/why-we-cant-stop-eating-frosting-can
The amounts of food that I eat are seen by most of my friends to be ridiculous. I eat more than $12 worth of eggs in one sitting in addition to bacon, toast and pancakes. Sometimes I eat an entire jar of peanut butter in one sitting or entire chickens. If I purchased all the food I ate at the store I would be broke, on the other hand I can get a couple of nicely proportioned meals at McDonald's for less than I would spend on a meal of just eggs.
I am not overweight, nor am I unhealthy, I'm 6'4 190lbs, I do however require crazy amounts of food to maintain a healthy lifestyle. In school I work 3 jobs,play 2 sports, volunteer and have work from the minute I wake until I go to sleep so spending time going to the store, preparing the food, cooking the food, eating the food and cleaning up afterwards is much more time consuming than the 5 minutes it takes to get to McDonald's or Subway. Not to mention I don't always have access to a kitchen so finding the time to cook is even harder.
As Moose says, "You can't simply tell a 15-30yo-aged male to eat potatoes and beans". Some individuals can't live on that diet, I know I would never survive on that diet. Everyone requires a different diet and forcing your diet on another is not safe or healthy. If people want to be fat and unhealthy that's fine, don't blame fast food because you're fat and unhealthy.
I'm not forcing diets on anyone (though everyone can survive on the diet I described unless diabetic or allergic), I'm saying that you can't claim to be poor and then claim to spend $4 per meal per day.
A dozen eggs costs about $2 and you're saying you eat $12 worth, so that's 72 eggs. At 90 Calories a piece that is 6,480 Calories just from the eggs. Plus bacon, pancakes and toast would put that at around 7,000 Calories (or more depending on quantity).
What are you buying at McDonald's are you buying for $4 that has 7000 Calories? Even a double quarter pounder with cheese only has 800 Calories. The big breakfast has like 1100 Calories, but I doubt you could get 6 of them for $4
You work 3 jobs, play 2 sports, volunteer, etc. So what you're saying is not that you don't have time to cook. You're saying you don't want to. You're saying it isn't important to you. That is something COMPLETELY different.
Everyone has time to eat real food. Anyone who can afford to eat fast food can afford to eat real food. That was my point. You are free to do whatever you want with your time, money and body as far as I'm concerned, but don't spread the lie that fast food is cheaper than real food because it just isn't.
Everyone who is having issues with @ppardee like mike and moose, there is a great new study on "New Study Finds Nothing That Will Actually Convince You To Change Your Lifestyle So Just Forget It"