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Variability in the reported energy, total fat and saturated fat contents in fast-food products across ten countries

  • Nida Ziauddeen (a1), Emily Fitt (a1), Louise Edney (a1) (a2), Elizabeth Dunford (a3) (a4), Bruce Neal (a3) (a4) and Susan A Jebb (a1) (a5)...
Abstract
Objective

Fast foods are often energy dense and offered in large serving sizes. Observational data have linked the consumption of fast foods to an increased risk of obesity and related diseases.

Design

We surveyed the reported energy, total fat and saturated fat contents, and serving sizes, of fast-food items from five major chains across ten countries, comparing product categories as well as specific food items available in most countries.

Setting

MRC Human Nutrition Research, Cambridge, UK.

Subjects

Data for 2961 food and drink products were collected, with most from Canada (n 550) and fewest from the United Arab Emirates (n 106).

Results

There was considerable variability in energy and fat contents of fast foods across countries, reflecting both the portfolio of products and serving size variability. Differences in total energy between countries were particularly noted for chicken dishes (649–1197 kJ/100 g) and sandwiches (552–1050 kJ/100g). When comparing the same product between countries variations were consistently observed in total energy and fat contents (g/100 g); for example, extreme variation in McDonald’s Chicken McNuggets with 12 g total fat/100 g in Germany compared with 21·1 g/100 g in New Zealand.

Conclusions

These cross-country variations highlight the possibility for further product reformulation in many countries to reduce nutrients of concern and improve the nutritional profiles of fast-food products around the world. Standardisation of serving sizes towards the lower end of the range would also help to reduce the risk of overconsumption.

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Corresponding author
* Corresponding author: Email Susan.jebb@phc.ox.ac.uk
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