Fast food facts and fallacies

In this Jan. 26, 2009, file photo, a customer looks at the menu at a McDonald's drive-thru in Williamsville, N.Y. (AP Photo/David Duprey, File)

The New Year's resolution most likely for people to put at the top of their lists is to lose weight.

And it also happens to be the resolution that people most likely will fail to accomplish.

A new study offers some encouragement for those who want to shed some pounds. Fast food restaurants haven't increased the size of their portions in 18 years. This is despite the perception that supersizing is a driving reason that almost 35 percent of American adults and 17 percent of children and adolescents are obese.

On the other hand, the study also has something for those who are looking to explain away why the pounds are not just dropping away.

There has been little change in the amount of saturated fat, sodium or calories in fast food. And this is despite some restaurants posting caloric and sodium counts for customers to see.

The research was conducted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University in Boston. It analyzed cheeseburgers, french fries, grilled chicken sandwiches and sodas in three national fast food chains. Nutrients varied significantly among the chains.

But overall, the one area that saw some improvement was in the amount of trans fats in french fries. It fell slightly between 2005 and 2009 as the U.S. and some states instituted regulations and chains changed their frying fat.

One take-away from this research is that it's important to watch serving sizes, calories and sodium content.


Maybe fast food isn't the best option for dieters.