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Restaurant fare can pack more calories than billed

Updated: October 3, 2011 11:46AM

If you’re watching your weight and eat out frequently, proceed cautiously: That healthful soup, sandwich or entree could have 100 to 275 more calories than the restaurant says, a study has found.

And those chips and salsa could pack 1,000 calories more than what is stated by the restaurant.

“The calories on your plate may be quite different from what you think you are getting, and the trouble is you can’t tell,” says Susan Roberts of the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University in Boston.

“I have a Ph.D. in nutrition, and I can’t tell if my dinner is 500 or 800 calories just by looking at the plate, and our study shows you can’t rely on the restaurants’ numbers for an individual meal.”

She and her colleagues collected 269 restaurant dishes from 42 popular fast-food spots and restaurants, including McDonald’s, Burger King, Olive Garden, Taco Bell, Denny’s and Chipotle.

Not all foods were way off. In fact, many came close to the mark or had fewer calories than billed.

Calories listed for fast-food restaurants tended to be closer to laboratory measurements than the stated calories of items purchased in sit-down restaurants.

This suggests there might be greater differences in how the kitchen staff at sit-down restaurants prepare the meals, says Roberts


Gannett News Service

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