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Teens underestimate calories!

New research from Harvard has reported that teenagers underestimate the number of calories in fast-food meals. Often by hundreds of calories! The research presented at the annual meeting of the Obesity Society found major errors in estimating calories in fast food chains such as McDonald’s, Burger King, Subway, Dunkin’ Donuts and Wendy’s.

Here are some of the findings as reported by Nanci Hellmich in today’s USA Today.

• 80% of teens underestimated the calories in their meals.

• 30% of teens underestimated the amount by at least 500 calories.

• Teens who ordered 1,000-calorie meals underestimated the amount by an average of 350 calories.

• Those who ordered 1,500-calorie meals were off by 700 calories.

Take-home message: It is no surprise that teens underestimated the calories in fast food meals as these foods are SO high in calories and their portions are huge.   Next time you—or your kids—visit a fast-food place, or any restaurant for that matter, assume that the meals have more calories than you would think.


A few pointers:

  • Order a small size when possible. Good news: fast-food places give you choices.
  • Limit liquid calories including soda.
  • Get a single burger instead of a double or triple.
  • Choose grilled chicken instead of fried chicken.
  • Choose fast food only on occasion.
  • Teach your kids to cook and eat home more often.
  • Include more fresh fruits and veggies whenever possible

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