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Some Restaurant Foods Have More Calories Than Indicated

Stated energy content is mostly accurate, but there is some discrepancy with individual foods

WEDNESDAY, July 20 (HealthDay News) -- The overall measured and stated energy content of restaurant foods is accurate, but there is considerable discrepancy between stated and measured energy content for individual food items, according to a study published in the July 20 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Lorien E. Urban, Ph.D., from Tufts University in Boston, and colleagues assessed the accuracy of the stated energy contents of foods purchased from restaurants. Between January and June 2010, dietary energy in 269 randomly selected total food items and 242 unique foods from 42 quick-serve and sit-down restaurants were calculated using a validated bomb calorimetry technique. The difference between restaurant-stated and laboratory measured energy contents, corrected for standard metabolizable energy conversion factors, was the main outcome measure.

The investigators found that, overall, there was no significant difference between absolute stated and measured energy contents, but there was variation in the stated energy content relative to the measured energy content of individual foods. The measured energy contents of 19 percent of the food items were at least 100 kcal/portion higher than their stated energy levels. For the 10 percent of foods with the highest excess energy contents in an initial sampling, there was an average excess measured energy content of 289 kcal/portion compared to the stated contents. The average excess energy content was 258 kcal/portion for 13 foods measured on a second analysis. There was a significant difference between the stated and measured energy contents, with foods with lower stated energy contents containing higher measured energy contents than stated, and vice versa.

"Stated energy contents of restaurant foods were accurate overall. However, there was substantial inaccuracy for some individual foods," the authors write.

One of the study authors disclosed financial ties to GSK Consumer Healthcare.

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