In recent years, fast food restaurants are claiming to offer healthy meals. The problem with their healthy meals is that, upon closer inspection, they seem to be more interested in presenting the appearance of healthy food rather than actually offering healthy meals. We see some breakfast sandwiches which have switched to only using egg whites but the eggs are still greasy and are offered with fatty cheese on them. For some lunch offerings, some meals offer salads but they are topped with toppings that multiply their calories and are also accompanied by high fat and high calorie salad dressings.
A study, sponsored by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, reveals that the nutritional quality of fast food meals improved only 3 percent between 1997/98 and 2009/10. Researchers used the USDA’s healthy eating index; on average, fast food meals only improved from 45 to 48 of 100 possible points. In comparison, the average American’s diet has a score of 55.
Researchers point the finger at the eight chains analyzed in the study: McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s, Taco Bell, Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC), Arby’s, Jack in the Box and Dairy Queen.
“More than one quarter of American adults consume fast food two or more times per week,” the study reads. “Fast food accounts for 15 percent of Americans’ daily energy intake. Speciﬁcally, 37.4 percent of sales of meals and snacks away from home are at limited-service eating places such as fast-food restaurants.”
Particularly confusing, in light of this news, is the proliferation of health terms on menu descriptions. The study notes that market research for 2010-2011 shows that use of the word “healthy” increased by 86 percent and the term “low-fat” by 33 percent.