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80% of teens underestimate fast-food calories

Updated: October 7, 2011 8:40AM

Teens are generally clueless about the number of calories in fast-food meals, underestimating the amount by hundreds of calories, a new study found.

“There are some major errors in their estimations,” says Jason Block, the study’s lead researcher, who is an instructor at Harvard Medical School.

Block and his colleagues surveyed 547 people, ages 11 to 20, as they left five restaurant chains: McDonald’s, Burger King, Subway, Dunkin’ Donuts and Wendy’s. Adolescents were asked to estimate the calories in their meals, then the researchers collected their receipts and figured out how many calories the meals actually contained. Findings, presented this week in Orlando at the annual meeting of the Obesity Society:

80 percent underestimated the calories in their meals.

30 percent underestimated the amount by 500 or more calories.

Those who ordered 1,000-calorie meals underestimated the amount by an average of 350 calories.

Those who ordered 1,500-calorie meals were off by 700 calories.

Gannett News Service

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