Restaurant meals contain more calories than fast food, report says

Traditional Restaurants Serve Dishes With Higher Calorie Content Than Fast Foods

Sit-down restaurant meals in Kent could be just as unhealthy as fast food according to new research.

Sit-down restaurants were five times more likely to offer high-calorie meals of 1,000kcal or more than fast-food restaurants, the research found.

The study was carried out in the United Kingdom but global chains like Nando's and Wagamama are popular with Irish diners eating out.

Researchers said many public health experts had focussed concern on fast foods, but not paid enough attention to the stodgy and fatty fare sold in high street restaurants.

Restaurants with high calorie dishes include Nando's, Pizza Hut and Wagamama, along with fast food favourites Burger King, McDonald's and KFC.

Scientists from the University of Liverpool carried out the research and analysed 13,500 dishes from establishments like Hungry Horse and McDonald's. However, only one in 10 meals from both fast food vendors and restaurant chains qualified. In their research, an worldwide team of researchers found that 94% of the menus in top restaurants and 72% of the servings in fast foods, across five countries on different continents, had 600 calories or more.

Public Health England recommends Brits should eat 600 calories for lunch and dinner.

Researchers said the findings probably underestimate the number of calories consumed in restaurants because they didn't include drinks, starters, desserts or side orders in their analyses.

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Swap chips for baked, boiled or steamed potatoes.

Dr Eric Robinson, lead author on the study, told the BBC he believes the food industry needs to change.

"We don't know about energy intake but "plate clearing" is a common behaviour".

The most calorie-packed dishes were served by Hungry Horse, which averaged 1,358 calories, and Stone House, which averaged 1,275 calories.

If the public health community really wants to effect change, "they need to find ways to transcend ideological debates, appeal to all sides, and acknowledge the potential value of many different approaches", she concludes.

"Proposals to shrink the size of dishes or cap calories would be yet another burden for hard-pressed operators to absorb, resulting in prices going up and investment in businesses going down; inevitably negatively impacting the overall customer experience".

The study relied on information provided online by restaurant chains on calorie content. Only restaurants in China served meals containing significantly less calories than USA restaurants. Very few provided calorie labelling on their menus.

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