Restaurant dining ‘as calorific as fast food’

“Eating in restaurants no better than fast food for health,” reports The Daily Telegraph after the publication of a study on the calorie intake of eating out.

The US study found people who enjoyed dining at a full-service restaurant consumed just as many calories as those who ate fast food.

Researchers looked at the diets of more than 12,500 Americans and found those who dined out at fast-food restaurants ate 205 calories more than those who ate at home. Those eating out at non-fast-food restaurants were not far behind, at 194 calories extra calories.

In an interview with The Daily Telegraph, lead study author Dr Binh Nguyen suggested restaurant food was higher in calories than home-cooked food because “they have more energy-dense foods and bigger portions”.

However, this seems speculative as the study didn’t report  portion size, making it difficult to know what diners were eating and in what quantity. This missing piece of information is important as it has the potential to significantly influence the study’s findings.

In the UK, the average person eats one in every six meals outside the home and we consume up to a quarter of our calories when eating out, according to the Food Standards Agency.

Eating out has been linked to a higher risk of being overweight or obese, which increases the risk of weight-related diseases such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

For those who want to maintain a healthy weight, being aware of different sources of energy from food and drink may help you achieve your weight-related goals.

This includes awareness of the possible impact of eating away from the home often, where a person has less direct control over their calorie consumption compared with a home-cooked meal.
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