The Hidden Costs Of Eating Out

Who doesn’t like eating out on a Friday night? While going to your favorite restaurant is certainly an enjoyable experience, your dietary habits might prove harmful to your health in the long run.

Too Much Junk Food

A 2020 study, published in The Journal of Nutrition, found that most of the food we consume at restaurants is not exactly healthy. In fact, more than two-thirds (70 percent) of fast food meals eaten by Americans were determined to have very little in the way of nutritional value. When it came to actually healthy meals, the news was even worse; over a period spanning more than ten years (2003 to 2016), less than 0.1% of restaurant meals served met the criteria for being of “ideal nutritional quality.”

Restaurant dining has become increasingly common in the United States. In fact, a full twenty percent of an average American’s caloric intake comes from restaurant meals. This fact was borne out from the researchers’ own work; nearly one-eighth of the calories eaten by the subjects came from fast-food meals. For full-service restaurant meals, this figure was 9 percent.

Even during the study time frame, the trends involving fast food consumption weren’t positive. In 2003, four percent of the subjects’ calorie intake came from fast food breakfasts. Thirteen years later, this figure had doubled to eight percent.

Time For Change

The study’s lead author, Dariush Mozaffarian, did not mince words when describing the state of American dietary habits. “On any given day, nearly one-third of American adults eat at a full- service restaurant, and nearly half at a fast-food restaurant,” stated Mozaffarian, the dean of the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University in Boston. “The nutritional quality of most of these meals is poor and almost none are ideal, and this is true for both quick-serve and full-service restaurants.”

Mozaffarian contends that all this junk food consumption has serious consequences for the American public’s health. “Today, more American adults are sick than are healthy, and much of this is due to diet-related illness. Looking for healthier restaurant options should be a priority for all Americans.”

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