More and more Americans choose to eat out today. But does it lead to healthy food choices? Clearly not, as a recent research by scientists from Tufts University found out. Published in The Journal of Nutrition, the study found restaurants, both fast food (FF) and full service (FS), contribute 1 in 5 calories in an American adult’s diet. However, the nutritional quality of such meals remained quite low with just a nominal meal meeting ideal health standards.
The findings are based on a nationally representative sample of 35,015 adults (aged 20 years or more) from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. The team assessed data from seven cycles, from 2003 to 2016. By using 24-h dietary recalls, they analyzed the patterns and nutritional quality of the FF and FS meals consumed by the participants. The meals were measured as per the American Heart Association diet scores.
They found that American adults derived 21 percent of their energy from dining out. FF meals accounted for more breakfasts, while the proportion remained almost the same for lunch and dinner. While the quality of FF meals improved marginally in this period, the quality of the FS meal remained the same. Only 0.1 percent of FS or FF meals were deemed ideal. Moreover, the disparities in meal qualities in terms of race, income, ethnicity, education, sex, and obesity persisted when eating out.