Health & Fitness ~ Eat Out = Eat More

Watching your weight? Watch out for restaurant meals. Researchers asked roughly 1,000 men and women to record everything they ate at home or at restaurants for a week. People of normal weight averaged 550 calories per meal at home, but they gobbled up 825 calories at a restaurant. For people who were overweight or obese, a typical meal at home had 625 calories, but at restaurants they swallowed about 900 calories.

What’s more, the overweight or obese ate their meals (at home and at restaurants) more quickly than others, yet they were no hungrier than their normal-weight counterparts. If anything, they were fuller (from previous meals) when they sat down to eat than people of normal weight.

A second study documented just how many calories (and how much sodium, saturated fat, etc.) restaurant meals contain. Researchers collected nutrition facts on more than 28,000 dishes served in 245 restaurants nationwide.

A typical appetizer had 700 calories (a quarter had more than 1145 calories), and a typical entrée had 590 calories (a quarter had more than 890 calories). That did not include a typical side dish (210 calories), side salad (410 calories) with dressing (150 calories), non-alcoholic beverage (360 calories), or dessert, rolls, or other baked goods (355 calories).

What to do: Eat out with caution.

Nutrition Action Health Letter July/August 2012, pg. 8, Center for Science in the Public Interest