by Dr Reddy- Nutrition | 9 September 2021
Fast foods are typically poor in terms of nutrition. They tend to contain various ingredients that are generally unhealthy as they are high in sugar, salt, saturated or trans fats, and many processed preservatives. People usually prefer the fast-food combo due to its bundled meal offer, which is more appealing. Being said that, people do not expect fast-food combo meals to be healthy lifestyle eating habit, but new research shows just how bad they can be.
This study surveyed all food and beverage products available for sale at 20 fast-food chains in New Zealand and compared calories, salt, sugar, and saturated fat content with daily recommended intakes.
The study found that one of the least healthy combos such as a double burger, dessert, fries, and a sugary soft drink included 16 teaspoons of sugar, along with more calories than an average person needs for an entire day. The study suggested fast-food chains help consumers make healthier choices by providing more nutrition information at the point of purchase and cut portion sizes. Also, quick and easy high calorie meals, salt, or sugar could have a warning symbol on the menu board for consumers to reflect at the point of purchase of any fast-food item.
The study further identified that the fast-food combos usually replace one of three usual main meals in a day. However, half of the combos examined provided at least 50% of the daily energy requirement and 89%, 81%, and 46% of the maximum recommended intake of sodium, sugar, and saturated fat, respectively.
The study concluded that people should go for small portions, skip the dessert, and choose a low-sugar drink, which will be beneficial and can make a big difference to their health. The study also encouraged the government to guide on serving sizes and set targets for calories and salt in fast foods, and menu board labeling, which is under consideration by policymakers.