Home cooking is still the best way to control the calories, fat, sugar and other nutrients that families consume, a new U.S. study suggests.
Researchers found that eating food from restaurants – whether from fast food places, or better establishments – led to increases in calories, fat and sodium compared to meals made at home.
Ruopeng An, a professor of kinesiology and community health at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, noted that people have previously equated fast food with junk food.
“But, people don’t know much about the food provided by full-service restaurants and if it is better or healthier compared to fast food or compared to food prepared and consumed at home,” An told Reuters Health.
For his study in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, An used data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), which regularly gathers health and dietary information from a representative sample of the U.S. population.
More than 18,000 adults answered survey questions about what they’d eaten over a two-day period. About a third of participants reported eating fast food on one or both days, and one quarter reported eating full-service restaurant food on at least one day.
Compared to participants who ate food prepared at home, those who visited fast food restaurants consumed an average of 190 more calories per day, 11 grams more fat, 3.5 g more saturated fat, 10 mg extra cholesterol and 300 mg additional sodium.