Health experts have been raising concerns about the quality of restaurant food for years. A new study has revealed just how large of a concern eating out can be. The one and a half-year study by theÂ Rand Corp. found that 96% of restaurant entrÃ©es failed to meet the guidelines of the United States Department of Agriculture.
[box type=”note”]The study was one of the most exhaustive of its kind. Wu and her colleagues studied nearly 31,000 menu items from about 250 restaurant chains across the country.[/box]
The study found that leading chain restaurants failed to adhere to USDA health standards for both adults and children.Â Â Helen Wu is the Rand analyst who oversaw the study. Wu was very concerned with the study’s findings. She warned families that if they go out to a restaurant, the chances of getting an entrÃ©e that had the optimal level of nutrients in it was very low.
Obesity and Nutrition Issues
Wu said that obesity and nutrition are some of the biggest concerns the United States is facing. She said that restaurants are going to need to start taking new measures if they intend to be part of the solution. Although some new chains have been launched in recent years, larger chains continue to stick to most of the same items. Wu said hopes they will start marketing healthier products to their customers so they can make better decisions. They will also need to start giving more detailed information on the nutritional value of the products they offer.
Healthy Dining Seal of Approval?
In addition, Wu said that restaurants are rated too generously on the healthy food options they offer. For example, the “Healthy Dining” seal of approval has very lenient guidelines in terms of sodium content.
Wu hopes that regulators, families and restaurants will be aware of the study’s findings. She hopes that it will encourage them to make better decisions and bring healthier options to the larger chains of restaurants.