Tags: Obesity | mcdonald | subway | fat | salt | obesity | fast

Subway No Better Than McDonald’s, Study Finds

Thursday, 09 May 2013 11:24 AM

By Nick Tate

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Subway bills its menu items as “healthy” fast-food alternatives, but a new side-by-side comparison with McDonald’s offerings has found meals from both chains are loaded with salt and calories, and are equally likely to contribute to overeating and obesity.
 
In fact, the UCLA study found that adolescents who purchased Subway meals consumed nearly as many calories as they did at McDonald's.
 
"Every day, millions of people eat at McDonald's and Subway, the two largest fast food chains in the world," said Lenard Lesser, M.D., who led the research while a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Clinical Scholar in at the University of California-Los Angeles.

"With childhood obesity at record levels, we need to know the health impact of kids' choices at restaurants."
 
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The study, published in the Journal of Adolescent Health, tracked 97 adolescents — ages 12 to 21 — who purchased meals at McDonald's and Subway restaurants at a shopping mall in Carson, Calif. Researchers reviewed the participants' cash register receipts to record what they ate and estimated calorie counts from information on the chains' websites.

The results showed the participants bought meals containing an average of 1,038 calories at McDonald's and an average of 955 calories at Subway. The Institute of Medicine recommends that school lunches not exceed 850 calories. An adolescent should consume an average of about 2,400 calories in a day.
 
"We found that there was no statistically significant difference between the two restaurants, and that participants ate too many calories at both," said Dr. Lesser, now a researcher at the Palo Alto Medical Foundation Research Institute.
 
Among the researchers' other findings:
  • The sandwiches purchased at Subway contained an average of 784 calories and 572 calories at McDonald's.
  • Participants purchased sugary drinks averaging 61 calories at Subway and 151 calories at McDonald's.
  • Customers in the study purchased side items such as french fries and potato chips that added an average of 35 calories at Subway compared with 201 calories at McDonald's.
  • Participants consumed 102 grams of carbohydrates at Subway; 128 grams at McDonald's.
  • The meals contained an average of 36 grams of sugar at Subway; 54 grams at McDonald's.
  • Meals contained an average of 41 grams of protein at subway; 32 grams at McDonald's.
  • Sodium intake averaged 2,149 mg at Subway; 1,829 mg at McDonald's.
"The nutrient profile at Subway was slightly healthier, but the food still contained three times the amount of salt that the Institute of Medicine recommends," Dr. Lesser said.
 
The authors suggested that the higher sodium content of the Subway meals likely came from the restaurant's processed meats, which are associated with obesity, cardiovascular disease,and cancer.
 
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Dr. Lesser recommended that McDonald's customers eliminate sugary drinks and french fries from their meals. "And if you go to Subway, opt for smaller subs and ask for less meat and double the amount of veggies," he said.

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