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Think fast food has fewer calories than a restaurant? Think again



Fast food often has fewer calories than restaurant meals, according to the new research.

Dishes served by popular high street chains contain more than twice the number of recommended calories.

Health experts say a main meal should contain no more than 600 calories but the study found the average dish served in chain restaurants contained 1,033 calories.

Meanwhile, meals served by fast food outlets such as McDonald’s, Wimpy and Burger King contained an average of 751 calories.

KFC was the worst takeaway offender, serving an average of 987 calories a meal.

The most calorie-packed dishes were served by Hungry Horse, which averaged 1,358 calories, and Stone House, which averaged 1,275 calories.

Harvester clocked up 1,166 calories, JD Wetherspoon 1,119 and Nandos 1,019.

Researchers looked at more than 13,500 meals on the menus of 21 sit-down restaurants and six fast food chains.

Using online company information on the number of calories, only one in 10 meals was classed as healthy – with a calorie count below the 600 recommended by Public Health England.

Author Dr Eric Robinson, lead researcher from the University of Liverpool, said the results were “shocking” but probably underestimated the calories consumed in restaurants because the research did not include drinks, starters or desserts.

He explained: “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.”

The government is currently looking at proposals to introduce mandatory labelling in restaurants, takeaways and cafes.

It comes as the number of morbidly obese people in England, Scotland and Wales is set to double over the next 20 years, according to a study in the summer.

Morbid obesity – the most extreme form of obesity – is understood to be linked to heightened risk of chronic diseases such as Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke, mental illness and some cancers.

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