The Accuracy of Stated Energy Contents of Reduced-Energy, Commercially Prepared Foods

Department of Nutritional Sciences, Tufts University, Boston, MA, USA.
Journal of the American Dietetic Association (Impact Factor: 3.92). 01/2010; 110(1):116-23. DOI: 10.1016/j.jada.2009.10.003
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT The accuracy of stated energy contents of reduced-energy restaurant foods and frozen meals purchased from supermarkets was evaluated. Measured energy values of 29 quick-serve and sit-down restaurant foods averaged 18% more than stated values, and measured energy values of 10 frozen meals purchased from supermarkets averaged 8% more than originally stated. These differences substantially exceeded laboratory measurement error but did not achieve statistical significance due to considerable variability in the degree of underreporting. Some individual restaurant items contained up to 200% of stated values and, in addition, free side dishes increased provided energy to an average of 245% of stated values for the entrees they accompanied. These findings suggest that stated energy contents of reduced-energy meals obtained from restaurants and supermarkets are not consistently accurate, and in this study averaged more than measured values, especially when free side dishes were taken into account. If widespread, this phenomenon could hamper efforts to self-monitor energy intake to control weight, and could also reduce the potential benefit of recent policy initiatives to disseminate information on food energy content at the point of purchase.

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Available from: Lorien Urban, Sep 28, 2015
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    • "First, previous research has demonstrated that energy content information from restaurants is accurate on average, but that there are discrepancies between stated and actual energy content on some types of menu items. It has been shown that, in FSRs, energy content was understated for higher-energy items and overstated for lower-energy items [42]. Thus, for some restaurants in our sample, it is possible that the estimated energy reductions when substituting FV for French fries may be overstated. "
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    ABSTRACT: Background Children consume restaurant-prepared foods at high rates, suggesting that interventions and policies targeting consumption of these foods have the potential to improve diet quality and attenuate excess energy intake. One approach to encouraging healthier dietary intake in restaurants is to offer fruits and vegetables (FV) as side dishes, as opposed to traditional, energy-dense accompaniments like French fries. The aims of the current study were to examine: children's views about healthier side dishes at restaurants; current side dish offerings on children's menus at leading restaurants; and potential energy reductions when substituting FV side dishes in place of French fries. Methods To investigate children’s attitudes, a survey was administered to a nationally representative sample of U.S. 8- to 18-year-olds (n = 1178). To examine current side dish offerings, children's menus from leading quick service (QSR; n = 10) and full service restaurant chains (FSR; n = 10) were analyzed. Energy reductions that could result from substituting commonly-offered FV side dishes for French fries were estimated using nutrition information corresponding to the children's menu items. Results Two-thirds of children reported that they would not feel negatively about receiving FV sides instead of French fries with kids' meals. Liking/taste was the most common reason that children gave to explain their attitudes about FV side dishes. Nearly all restaurants offered at least 1 FV side dish option, but at most restaurants (60% of QSR; 70% of FSR), FV sides were never served by default. Substituting FV side dishes for French fries yielded an average estimated energy reduction of at least 170 calories. Conclusions Results highlight some healthy trends in the restaurant context, including the majority of children reporting non-negative attitudes about FV side dishes and the consistent availability of FV side dish options at leading QSR and FSR. Yet the minority of restaurants offer these FV sides by default. Promoting creative, appealing FV side dishes can result in healthier, less energy-dense meals for children. Substituting or displacing energy-dense default side dishes with such FV dishes show promise as part of continued, comprehensive efforts to increase the healthfulness of meals consumed by children in restaurant settings.
    International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity 07/2014; 11(1):81. DOI:10.1186/1479-5868-11-81 · 4.11 Impact Factor
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    • "The obesogenic environment (Zeller et al., 2007) gives the idea that the man-made environment can be less (or more) conducive to gain weight, whether it is by making physical activity easier (or more difficult) or facilitating (or hampering) the making of healthier eating choices or combinations of food items (Kwate, Yau, Loh, & Williams, 2009; Mikkelsen, 2011). What is served as side dishes (e.g. a staple, vegetables, condiments or sauces) and the accompanying beverages can have a considerable impact on the energy provided by the total meal (Ishii, Takizawa, Okabe et al., 2005; Urban et al., 2010; Best & Appleton, Meat Science 95 (2013) 694–698 "
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    ABSTRACT: The objective of this study is to explore the association between pork as the main meal component and the choice for side dishes and beverages depending on foodscape and individual characteristics, including overweight and obesity among fresh pork consumers (n=2156) in five European countries (Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Greece and Poland). Males were found to combine pork more with caloric drinking (odds ratio=1.32) and low levels of vegetable intake (odds ratio=1.32) compared to females. Younger consumers were more likely to combine pork with low levels of vegetable intake but less likely to combine pork with sauces or condiments. Heavy users of pork were more likely (odds ratio=1.43) to combine pork with sauces or condiments. The study also found an association between being overweight or obese and higher consumption of carbohydrate rich staple foods (odds ratio=1.30) and caloric drinks (odds ratio=1.30) as side dishes to pork meat. Substantial cross-cultural differences were revealed in line with typical pork consumption and meal composition habits in the respective countries. Finally, this study found that the company of family plays a significant role when choosing side dishes for pork as meal center, thus constituting a relevant venue for the positioning and marketing of pork, as well as for future public health information about meals with pork as main meal component.
    Meat Science 03/2013; 95(3):694-698. DOI:10.1016/j.meatsci.2013.02.017 · 2.62 Impact Factor
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