Between 2013 and 2016, 36.6 percent of the adults in the United States ate fast foods on any given day.
According to the research conducted by the University of Connecticut 2018, they came to the conclusion that around 74 percent of parents purchase unhealthy foods for their children in fast- food restaurants.
The investigators noticed this crisis and from 2013 onward, some of the most popular fast food chains started offering more healthful options in their children’s menus.
Despite the addition of more wholesome choices, a new study shows that still many fast food restaurants have not added healthy meals in their menu.
The researchers checked the amount of variety, nutrition of entree, portion size and desert provided by 10 of the most popular food chains in the U.S. They went through history of roughly three decades, based on the menus that were made available at three points in time: in 1986,1991 and 2016.
The team were involved in analyzing menus from: Dairy Queen, Hardee’s, Jack in the box, Burger King, Arby’s, Long John Silver’s, Wendy’s and McDonald’s.
The lead investigator of this research, Megan McCrony, Ph.D is of the opinion that, “Given the popularity of fast food, our study highlights one of the changes in our food environment that is likely part of the reason for the increase in obesity and related chronic conditions over the past several decades, which are now among the main causes of death in the U.S.”
They specifically paid attention to the changes to the chronic content, sodium, iron and calcium contents, portion size, energy density. They are looking into how these entrees, desserts and sides changed on the fast food menus over the 30 year span.
Calories are most definitely increasing among sides, desserts and entrees. The largest rise was seen in dessert category with an increase of 62 kilo calories every 10 years. Next one was entree which increased by 30 kilo calories per decade.
The team and McCrory also noted that four of the 10 fast food chains also provided information about the calcium and iron contents of items on their menus over the past 3 decades.
The researchers did acknowledge that two essential nutrients are found in today’s fast food which plays a key role in bone and blood health. They are found to be more present fast food than they were 30 years ago.
To be specific, desserts and entrees have now significantly higher amount of calcium contents and iron is found to be more abundant in desserts.
However, McCrory stresses on the fact that people cannot depend on the calcium level and iron levels provided by fast foods. These nutrients are found in unprocessed or minimally processed foods such as fish, dairy product and seeds.
McCrory says, ” We need to find better ways to help people consume fewer calories and sodium at fast-food restaurants.” She further says, “The requirement that chain restaurants display calories on their menus is a start. We would like to see more changes, such as restaurants offering smaller portions at […] proportional prices.”