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Fast Food Servings Have Gotten Bigger and Saltier

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Megan A McCrory, PhD, FTOSResearch Associate ProfessorDept of Health SciencesSargent College of Health and Rehabilitation SciencesBoston University 02215

Dr. McCrory

Megan A McCrory, PhD, FTOS
Research Associate Professor
Dept of Health Sciences
Sargent College of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences
Boston University 02215

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Response: The prevalence of overweight and obesity has increased in the US, along with documented increases in portion size in the food supply. Fast food is popular, making up about 11% of adult daily calorie intake in the US, and over 1/3 of U.S. adults eat at fast food establishments on any given day. We therefore sought to examine changes in portion size, calories, and selected nutrients in fast-food entree, side, and dessert menu items across the years 1986, 1991, and 2016.

MedicalResearch.com: What are the main findings?

Response: Our main findings were that over the 30 year period, entrees, sides, and desserts increased significantly in calories and sodium, while entrees and desserts also increased significantly in portion size.

The largest increases were seen in desserts for calories and portion size (186 calories, 72 grams) followed by entrees (90 calories, 39 grams). The largest increase in sodium was seen in entrees (13.8 % daily value). 

MedicalResearch.com: What should readers take away from your report?

Response: Readers should take away that the changes in fast-food menu offerings have been broadly detrimental.

MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this work?

Response: Research is needed to find effective ways to help consumers reduce their consumption of fast food as part of multiple dietary-related ways to improve the health of Americans as a whole. 

MedicalResearch.com: Is there anything else you would like to add? Any disclosures?

Response: Consumers of fast food who want to eat better while dining at fast food restaurants can take steps to reduce their intake of calories and sodium in a number of ways. Some possibilities include ordering single instead of double burgers, small size of desserts instead of large, and sharing a single order of French fries with a friend. In this way, consumers will be consuming fewer calories and sodium from their fast food meals but will still enjoy the taste of their favorite fast foods. As always, they can also make substitutions for “healthier” fast foods such as having a salad instead of a burger; but this is a large change and may not be to some consumers’ liking.

No disclosures 


Fast-Food Offerings in the United States in 1986, 1991, and 2016 Show Large Increases in Food Variety, Portion Size, Dietary Energy, and Selected Micronutrients

McCrory, Megan A. et al.

Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics , Volume 0 , Issue 0 ,

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Last Updated on March 9, 2019 by Marie Benz MD FAAD