That Burger You're Eating? Probably has 500 More Calories Than You Figured

This probably shouldn't come as any surprise but a new study has found that we vastly underestimate the number of calories we're eating when we're feasting at fast food chains.

Nanci Hellmich reports at usatoday.com that "Teens underestimated the calories in fast-food meals by 34%; parents of school-age children by 23%; and adults by 20%." This, from a survey by lead researcher Jason Block of Harvard Medical School and Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Institute

Pretty scary (and this doesn't include all the "healthy" food we overeat.  The restaurants visited were McDonald's, Burger King, KFC, and Dunkin Donuts, among others.

At least one-quarter of all participants underestimated what they were eating by 500 calories (that's a meal, for some of us), Hellmich notes.  Teens' foods contained almost 800 calories but they estimated them at around 200, and adults, while doing a little better, still lowballed an 800-calorie entree by almost 200 points.

School-age children had meals that were about 700 calories but their parents accounted for 175 calories too few.

And at Subway, oh Subway, my one hope of eating fast-food-healthy, people underestimated the calories they were eating the most.

So what does this mean for us?  Simply, that we're way out of whack when it comes to knowing just how fattening the food is we're putting in our mouths.  According to pbs.org, a third of all Americans are overweight and another third, obese.  Put them together and that makes us, as a country. over 68% of us, well, fat.

And as portion sizes increase (the average size of a bagle doubled between 1983 and 2003), so do our pants and dress sizes.  Just by losing 5% of our weight, we could see a huge decrease in our risk for heart disease, stroke,diabetes,  even cancer.

Think about it.  Is that second piece of walnut caramel pie with whipped cream and chocolate chip frosting (Paula Deen made it yesterday) really worth it?


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