People underestimate fast food calories
Do you know how many calories are in a Big Mac? As it turns out, quite a few people don’t have any idea – and many significantly underestimate the caloric damage.
According to research from the Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Institute, people – especially teens – are consuming far more calories than they think they are when they eat fast food. One-third of teens underestimated calorie counts, compared to one-fourth of parents with school-aged children and one-fifth of other adults.
In 2011 and 2012, the researchers surveyed 3,400 people at 89 different fast food restaurants in the New England area. On average, adults ordered meals that tallied 836 calories – but most underestimated by about 175 calories. Teens ordered meals averaging 756-calories, but were off on calorie guesses by 259, the biggest discrepancy among any group evaluated. And one-fourth of the survey participants thought that their meals had 500 fewer calories than they actually had. Subway customers were the most likely to underestimate the calorie counts in their food.
American adults now get an estimated 11 percent of their daily calories from fast food. Researchers believe that helping people better understand how many calories they’re actually consuming could be a key to curbing the country's obesity epidemic.