A study conducted by researchers from the University of Toronto found that a single meal at a North American restaurant might contain more than half the calories an average person needs for the entire day. The findings were published in the ‘Journal Of The American Medical Association’ (JAMA).
Hundreds of meals at 19 sit-down chain restaurants were sampled and it was found that average breakfast, lunch and dinner meals each contained 1128 calories, or 56 percent of the daily 2000-calorie recommendation.
Salt, fat, saturated fat and cholesterol levels were also found to be extremely high in these meals, which contained 2269 milligrams of salt or 151 percent of the daily-recommended amount for most adults (1500 milligrams), 89 percent of the daily value for fat, 83 percent of the daily value for saturated fat, and 60 percent of the daily value for cholesterol.
In another paper also published in JAMA, researchers from Tufts University focused on dishes available at 33 small independent and small chain restaurants in the Boston area, and samples were taken from Mexican, American, Chinese, Italian, Japanese, Thai, Indian, Greek and Vietnamese restaurants.
Their findings showed that, on average, these meals contained 1,327 calories, which significantly exceeds the estimated energy needs of an individual adult at a single meal. Meanwhile, the researchers discovered that more than 75 percent of the meals contained at least 1000 calories and nearly 8 percent of meals contained 2000 calories. And surprisingly, they also found that calorie content was nearly 50 percent greater than that of popular meals from the largest national chain restaurants.
Italian meals had the highest average calories per meal (1,755), followed by American (1,494 calories) and Chinese (1,474 calories). Vietnamese meals had the least number of calories on average (922), and Japanese meals had the second lowest (1,027).