Advertisement

Energy Content of U.S. Fast-Food Restaurant Offerings

14-Year Trends

      Background

      Within the past decade, there has been increasing attention to the role of fast food in the American diet, including a rise in legislative and media-based efforts that address the healthfulness of fast food. However, no studies have been undertaken to evaluate changes in the energy content of fast-food chain restaurant menu items during this period.

      Purpose

      To examine changes in the energy content of lunch/dinner menu offerings at eight of the leading fast-food chain restaurants in the U.S. between 1997–1998 and 2009–2010.

      Methods

      Menu offerings and nutrient composition information were obtained from archival versions of the University of Minnesota Nutrition Coordinating Center Food and Nutrient Database. Nutrient composition information for items was updated biannually. Changes in median energy content of all lunch/dinner menu offerings and specific categories of menu items among all restaurants and for individual restaurants were examined. Data were collected between 1997 and 2010 and analysis was conducted in 2011.

      Results

      Spanning 1997–1998 and 2009–2010, the number of lunch/dinner menu items offered by the restaurants in the study increased by 53%. Across all menu items, the median energy content remained relatively stable over the study period. Examining specific food categories, the median energy content of desserts and condiments increased, the energy content of side items decreased, and energy content of entrées and drinks remained level.

      Conclusions

      Although large increases in the number of menu items were observed, there have been few changes in the energy content of menu offerings at the leading fast-food chain restaurants examined in this study.
      To read this article in full you will need to make a payment

      Purchase one-time access:

      Academic & Personal: 24 hour online accessCorporate R&D Professionals: 24 hour online access
      One-time access price info
      • For academic or personal research use, select 'Academic and Personal'
      • For corporate R&D use, select 'Corporate R&D Professionals'

      Subscribe:

      Subscribe to American Journal of Preventive Medicine
      Already a print subscriber? Claim online access
      Already an online subscriber? Sign in
      Institutional Access: Sign in to ScienceDirect

      References

        • Pereira M.A.
        • Kartashov A.I.
        • Ebbeling C.B.
        • et al.
        Fast-food habits, weight gain, and insulin resistance (the CARDIA study): 15-year prospective analysis.
        Lancet. 2005; 365: 36-42
        • Briefel R.R.
        • Johnson C.L.
        Secular trends in dietary intake in the U.S..
        Annu Rev Nutr. 2004; 24: 401-431
        • Nielsen S.J.
        • Siega-Riz A.M.
        • Popkin B.M.
        Trends in food locations and sources among adolescents and young adults.
        Prev Med. 2002; 35: 107-113
        • Economic Research Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture
        Diet quality and food consumption: food and nutrient intake tables.
        2011
        • Guthrie J.F.
        • Lin B.H.
        • Frazao E.
        Role of food prepared away from home in the American diet, 1977–78 versus 1994–96: changes and consequences.
        J Nutr Educ Behav. 2002; 34: 140-150
        • Oches S.
        The 2011 QSR 50. QSR.
        2011
        • Anderson B.
        • Rafferty A.P.
        • Lyon-Callo S.
        • Fussman C.
        • Imes G.
        Fast-food consumption and obesity among Michigan adults.
        Prev Chronic Dis. 2011; 8: A71
        • Bowman S.A.
        • Gortmaker S.L.
        • Ebbeling C.B.
        • Pereira M.A.
        • Ludwig D.S.
        Effects of fast-food consumption on energy intake and diet quality among children in a national household survey.
        Pediatrics. 2004; 113: 112-118
        • Harris J.L.
        • Schwartz M.B.
        • Brownell K.D.
        Fast food FACTS: evaluating fast food nutrition and marketing to youth.
        Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity. 2010;
        • Sebastian R.S.
        • Wilkinson Enns C.
        • Goldman J.D.
        U.S.adolescents and MyPyramid: associations between fast-food consumption and lower likelihood of meeting recommendations.
        J Am Diet Assoc. 2009; 109: 226-235
        • Wiecha J.L.
        • Finkelstein D.
        • Troped P.J.
        • Fragala M.
        • Peterson K.E.
        School vending machine use and fast-food restaurant use are associated with sugar-sweetened beverage intake in youth.
        J Am Diet Assoc. 2006; 106: 1624-1630
        • Ebbeling C.B.
        • Sinclair K.B.
        • Pereira M.A.
        • Garcia-Lago E.
        • Feldman H.A.
        • Ludwig D.S.
        Compensation for energy intake from fast food among overweight and lean adolescents.
        JAMA. 2004; 291: 2828-2833
        • Crawford D.
        • Ball K.
        • Mishra G.
        • Salmon J.
        • Timperio A.
        Which food-related behaviours are associated with healthier intakes of fruits and vegetables among women?.
        Public Health Nutr. 2007; 10: 256-265
        • Bowman S.A.
        • Vinyard B.T.
        Fast food consumption of U.S. adults: impact on energy and nutrient intakes and overweight status.
        J Am Coll Nutr. 2004; 23: 163-168
        • French S.A.
        • Harnack L.
        • Jeffery R.W.
        Fast food restaurant use among women in the Pound of Prevention study: dietary, behavioral and demographic correlates.
        Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord. 2000; 24: 1353-1359
        • Jeffery R.W.
        • French S.A.
        Epidemic obesity in the U.S.: are fast foods and television viewing contributing?.
        Am J Public Health. 1998; 88: 277-280
        • French S.A.
        • Jeffery R.W.
        • Forster J.L.
        • McGovern P.G.
        • Kelder S.H.
        • Baxter J.E.
        Predictors of weight change over two years among a population of working adults: the Healthy Worker Project.
        Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord. 1994; 18: 145-154
        • Rosenheck R.
        Fast food consumption and increased caloric intake: a systematic review of a trajectory towards weight gain and obesity risk.
        Obes Rev. 2008; 9: 535-547
        • Schlosser E.
        Fast food nation: The dark side of the all-American meal.
        Houghton Mifflin, New York2001
        • Spurlock M.
        Super Size Me.
        May 21, 2004
      1. Notice of Intention to Repeal and Reenact Sec.
        New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, New York2007
      2. An act to add Section 114094 to the Health and Safety Code, relating to food facilities.
        California Senate Bill 1420. 2008;
        • U.S. House of Representatives
        The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
        2010 (Washington DC)
        • Dumanovsky T.
        • Huang C.Y.
        • Nonas C.A.
        • Matte T.D.
        • Bassett M.T.
        • Silver L.D.
        Changes in energy content of lunchtime purchases from fast food restaurants after introduction of calorie labelling: cross sectional customer surveys.
        Br Med J. 2011; 343: d4464
        • Elbel B.
        • Kersh R.
        • Brescoll V.L.
        • Dixon L.B.
        Calorie labeling and food choices: a first look at the effects on low-income people in New York City.
        Health Aff. 2009; 28: w1110-w1121
        • Harnack L.J.
        • French S.A.
        • Oakes J.M.
        • Story M.T.
        • Jeffery R.W.
        • Rydell S.A.
        Effects of calorie labeling and value size pricing on fast food meal choices: results from an experimental trial.
        Int J Behav Nutr Phys Act. 2008; 5: 63
        • Finkelstein E.A.
        • Strombotne K.L.
        • Chan N.L.
        • Krieger J.
        Mandatory menu labeling in one fast-food chain in King County, Washington.
        Am J Prev Med. 2011; 40: 122-127
        • Jebb S.A.
        Calorie labelling on the high street.
        BMJ. 2011; 343: d4502
      3. McDonald's to drop super-size meals. Quick Service Restaurant Magazine.

        • Mariani S.
        Fast-food restaurants' trend to increase healthy alternatives: a work in progress.
        2011
      4. McDonald's® announces commitments to offer improved nutrition choices.
        2011
        • Kraak V.I.
        • Story M.
        • Wartella E.A.
        • Ginter J.
        Industry progress to market a healthful diet to American children and adolescents.
        Am J Prev Med. 2011; 41: 322-333
      5. QSR Magazine, Top 50, published August 2011.
        • Schakel S.
        Maintaining a nutrient database in a changing marketplace: keeping pace with changing food products—a research perspective.
        J Food Compost Anal. 2001; 14: 315-322
        • Schakel S.
        • Buzzard I.
        • Gebhardt S.
        Procedures for estimating nutrient values for food composition databases.
        J Food Compost Anal. 1997; 10: 102-114
        • Schakel S.F.
        • Sievert Y.A.
        • Buzzard I.M.
        Sources of data for developing and maintaining a nutrient database.
        J Am Diet Assoc. 1988; 88: 1268-1271
        • Sievert Y.A.
        • Schakel S.F.
        • Buzzard I.M.
        Maintenance of a nutrient database for clinical trials.
        Control Clin Trials. 1989; 10: 416-425
        • Westrich B.
        • Buzzard I.
        • Gatewood L.
        • McGovern P.
        Accuracy and efficiency of estimating nutrient values in commercial food products using mathematical optimization.
        J Food Compost Anal. 1994; 77: 223-239
        • Miller D.L.
        • Bell E.A.
        • Pelkman C.L.
        • Peters J.C.
        • Rolls B.J.
        Effects of dietary fat, nutrition labels, and repeated consumption on sensory-specific satiety.
        Physiol Behav. 2000; 71: 153-158
        • Rolls B.J.
        Sensory-specific satiety.
        Nutr Rev. 1986; 44: 93-101
        • Chandon P.
        • Wansink B.
        When are stockpiled products consumed faster?.
        J Mark Res. 2002; 39: 321-335
        • Scheibehenne B.
        • Greifeneder R.
        • Todd P.M.
        Can there ever be too many options?.
        J Consum Res. 2010; 37: 409-425
        • Young L.R.
        • Nestle M.
        Portion sizes and obesity: responses of fast-food companies.
        J Public Health Policy. 2007; 28: 238-248
        • Dumanovsky T.
        • Nonas C.A.
        • Huang C.Y.
        • Silver L.D.
        • Bassett M.T.
        What people buy from fast-food restaurants: caloric content and menu item selection, New York City 2007.
        Obesity. 2009; 17: 1369-1374
        • Chandon P.
        • Wansink B.
        The biasing health halos of fast-food restaurant health claims: lower calorie estimates and higher side-dish consumption intentions.
        J Consum Res. 2007; 34: 301-314
        • Wilcox K.
        • Vallen B.
        • Block L.
        • Fitzsimons G.J.
        Vicarious goal fullfillment: when the mere presence of a healthy option leads to an ironically indulgent decision.
        J Consum Res. 2009; 36: 380-393
        • Glanz K.
        • Resnicow K.
        • Seymour J.
        • et al.
        How major restaurant chains plan their menus: the role of profit, demand, and health.
        Am J Prev Med. 2007; 32: 383-388