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Fast-Food Chains Add Healthier Menu Items, But Average Calorie Counts Change Little

November 13, 2012: 12:00 AM EST
A study by U.S. researchers finds that though healthy items – oatmeal with fruit, salads with grilled chicken, etc. – have been added to major fast-food restaurant menus, the average calorie counts changed very little between 1997 and 2010. Menu offerings and nutrient composition information were analyzed using archival versions of a food and nutrient database. Menus from McDonald's, Burger King, Wendy's, Taco Bell, KFC, Arby's, Jack in the Box and Dairy Queen were included in the database. Researchers found a 53 percent increase in the total number of offerings over 14 years across the restaurants. Fast-growing additions to the menus included the number of entree salads, which increased from 11 to 51, and sweetened teas, which went from zero to 35. However, the authors found no large changes in the median calorie content of entrees and drinks.
Katherine W. Bauer et al., "Energy Content of U.S. Fast-Food Restaurant Offerings", American Journal of Preventive Medicine, November 13, 2012, © American Journal of Preventive Medicine
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