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Nutrition Studies: 70% Of U.S. Fast-Food Meals Are “Poor Dietary Quality”

“Our findings show dining out is a recipe for unhealthy eating most of the time,” said Dariush Mozaffarian, senior author and dean of the Friedman School. 

At fast-food restaurants, 70 percent of the meals Americans consumed were of poor dietary quality in 2015-16, down from 75 percent in 2003-04. At full-service restaurants, about 50 percent were of poor nutritional quality, an amount that remained stable over the study period. The remainder were of intermediate nutritional quality.

BOSTON (Jan. 29, 2020, 9:00 a.m. EST)—The typical American adult gets one of every five Tufts School of Nutrition Science and Policy logocalories from a restaurant, but eating out is a recipe for meals of poor nutritional quality in most cases, according to a new study by researchers at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University.

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Published today in The Journal of Nutrition, the study analyzed the dietary selections of more than 35,000 U.S. adults from 2003-2016 in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) who dined at full-service (those with wait staff) or fast-food restaurants, which included pizza shops and what has become known as fast-casual. The researchers assessed nutritional quality by evaluating specific foods and nutrients in the meals, based on the American Heart Association 2020 diet score.

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