Public Release: 

Fast food meals are smaller, have fewer calories than food served at restaurants

Both have more calories than meals prepared at home

Wiley

West Lafayette, IN - December 17, 2008 - A new study in the Review of Agricultural Economics compares fast food and table service meals at restaurants. Results show that both are larger and have more calories than meals prepared at home, with the typical fast food meal being smaller and having fewer calories than the average meal from a table service restaurant.

James K. Binkley of Purdue University used data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Continuing Survey of Food Intakes by Individuals, which is the most recently available large sample of information regarding nutritional intake, to analyze fast food, table service restaurant meals, and meals prepared at home.

Fast food was found to be more energy dense than food from a table service restaurant. However, Binkley found that fast food meals tend to be smaller. Consequently, the typical fast food meal had fewer calories than the average meal from a table service restaurant, whether the diner is an adult, teenager, or child.

But, the study found that table service diners are more likely to reduce their food consumption during the rest of the day than are those eating at fast food restaurants, most likely because of the difference in energy density. As a result, fast food may ultimately result in more calories.

Perhaps the most surprising result of the study was the finding that fast food had the largest effects for adults, and that children's caloric intakes were greatest when they ate at table service restaurants.

"It is misleading to focus concerns about the nutritional effects of increased food away from home primarily on fast food. All food away from home should be considered," Binkley concludes.

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This study is published in the Winter 2008 issue of the Review of Agricultural Economics. Media wishing to receive a PDF of this article may contact journalnews@bos.blackwellpublishing.net.

James K. Binkley is affiliated with Purdue University and can be reached for questions at jbinkley@purdue.edu.

The Review of Agricultural Economics is published jointly by the Agricultural & Applied Economics Association, the Northeastern Agricultural and Resource Economics Association, Southern Agricultural Economics Association, and the Western Agricultural Economics Association. The purpose of the Review is to provide a scholarly journal for research findings on real world issues relevant to various areas of agricultural, food, and natural resource economics, broadly defined. Published articles are expected to be of interest to applied economists working in the public, private, and nonprofit sectors, both domestically and internationally.

Wiley-Blackwell was formed in February 2007 as a result of the acquisition of Blackwell Publishing Ltd. by John Wiley & Sons, Inc., and its merger with Wiley's Scientific, Technical, and Medical business. Together, the companies have created a global publishing business with deep strength in every major academic and professional field. Wiley-Blackwell publishes approximately 1,400 scholarly peer-reviewed journals and an extensive collection of books with global appeal. For more information on Wiley-Blackwell, please visit www.wiley-blackwell.com or http://interscience.wiley.com.

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