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AACE: Fast Food May Be Deficient in Iodine

Analysis of food from McDonald's and Burger King finds low average levels in most items

FRIDAY, April 23 (HealthDay News) -- Iodine intake from fast food restaurants may be low unless iodinated bread, milkshakes or fish are eaten, so the fact that fast food is a daily source of nutrition for one in four Americans could help explain the 50 percent decrease in median urinary iodine observed between 1971 to 1974 and 1988 to 1994, according to research presented at the annual meeting of the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists, held from April 21 to 25 in Boston.

Sun Lee, M.D., of the Boston Medical Center, and colleagues compared the iodine content of several comparable items purchased from two randomly selected Burger King restaurants and two randomly selected McDonald's restaurants. Burger King endorses the use of iodized salt, but McDonald's does not.

The researchers found that average amounts of iodine were low, ranging from 2 µg in a small portion of McDonald's french fries to 25 µg in a Burger King Whopper with cheese. However, they found that milkshakes and fish sandwiches had higher iodine contents (147 to 164 µg in a small vanilla milkshake and 40 to 70 µg in one fish sandwich), and that Burger King's chicken sandwich had an unexpectedly high average iodine content (163 µg per sandwich); but, further analysis showed that the bread -- not the chicken patty -- was the source of high iodine.

"A large portion of Americans consume fast food as a major source of nutrition," Lee said in a statement. "However these foods, except most items containing milk and fish, are not good sources of iodine, an integral component in the human body, especially for pregnant women."

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