With their large portion sizes and high grease loads, restaurant meals are generally less nutritious than their home-cooked counterparts. But how bad are they, particularly for young people?
When teenagers ate food away from home, found a new study, they consumed as much as 300 extra calories a day or more. Kids and teens also took in more sugar, salt, saturated fat and total fat when they visited restaurants than when they ate at home.
The study included data on more than 4,700 young people, ages 2 through 19, who were surveyed about their eating patterns between 2003 and 2008.
When they ate at fast-food restaurants, kids up to age 11 ate an extra 125 calories over the course of a day, while adolescents age 12 and older ate about 310 excess calories, the researchers report today in the journal Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine. Even when they ate at full-service restaurants, kids added 160 calories to their daily consumption while teens added about 270.