Diet Sabotage: Nearly 1 In 5 Calorie Counts WrongPosted on Jul 20th 2011 2:00PM by Catherine Pearson
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When researchers analyzed foods from 42 restaurants, they found that 19 percent had 100 or more additional calories per serving than what was listed. This could have big implications given USDA estimates that nearly half of Americans eat out at least three times per week.
Researchers from Tufts University ordered 269 different food items from both sit-down and fast-food national chain restaurants across Massachusetts, Arkansas and Indiana. For the most part, they found that foods were within 10 or so calories of the information listed, prompting the researchers to write that the stated information was "broadly accurate" in the paper published Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
But 19 percent of the foods analyzed were found to have at least 100 calories per serving more than the restaurants stated, and one dish -- a serving of chips and salsa -- had 1,000 calories more than what was listed. Foods with the lowest listed calorie counts tended to have greater discrepancies.
"We were pleased to see that average calorie listings are accurate," the study's senior author Susan B. Roberts, PhD, said in a statement. "But we think it is very important that lower calorie foods not contain more calories than listed because such foods are purchased by people trying to control their weight. They will find that harder to do if they are eating more than they think."
Among the foods with the greatest differences calorie-wise were soups and salads -- particularly those served in sit-down restaurants. Lorien Urban, Ph.D., first author of the study and a researcher at the Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University, surmised this could have much to do with portion sizes being slightly bigger than those used when restaurants calculate the calorie content. She also said there can be real differences in terms of how much dressing goes on a salad, or if an extra teaspoon of a higher-calorie topping is thrown in.
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