While we often think of fast food as the height of unhealthy, it turns out consumers are more likely to overeat at major restaurant chains such as Nando’s, Hungry Horse and Harvester, according research published in The BMJ.
In an effort to investigate the link between eating out and obesity, the University of Liverpool researchers analysed 13,500 meals from both fast food and sit-down chain restaurants.
An average main meal at Nando’s contains 1019 calories, compared to 726 at McDonald’s, while meals from Hungry Horse contained an average of 1358 calories, compared to 987 in KFC meals.
On average, a burger meal at a restaurant had 414 calories more than an equivalent at a fast food venue, while a restaurant salad meal contained 142 more than the fast food equivalent.
Despite fast food containing less calories than in restaurant chains, many meals exceeded healthy calorie limits.
Public Health England recommends Brits should eat 600 calories for lunch and dinner. However, only one in 10 meals from both fast food vendors and restaurant chains qualified.
Dr Eric Robinson, lead author on the study, told the BBC he believes the food industry needs to change.
He said: “It’s really clear what the food industry need to do. They need to act more responsibly and reduce the number of calories that they’re serving.”
He also admitted the research probably underestimated the calories consumed in restaurants.
“We don’t know about energy intake but ‘plate clearing’ is a common behaviour. Our analysis did not include drinks, starters, desserts or side orders.”
Obesity is a growing problem in the UK, which is now said to be the third fattest nation in Europe.
Simple lifestyle changes to lose weight include sleeping more, paying more attention to food labels and doing exercise daily.
The practice of emotional eating can also be a trigger for gaining pounds.
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