Fast Food, On Average, Is NOT Getting Any Healthier

McDonalds Southwest Salad


So you thought the salads, the wraps, and reduced calorie fries are turning fast food joints into nutritious dining options? That is not the case, according to a recent report in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics:

Industry marketing and pledges may create a misleading perception that restaurant menus are becoming substantially healthier, but both healthy and unhealthy menu changes can occur simultaneously. Our study found no meaningful changes overall across a 1-year time period. Longer-term studies are needed to track changes over time, particularly after the federal menu labeling law is implemented. Read more…


The researchers looked at only 2 parameters – calories and sodium. The average calorie count did not change and stayed at 670. Sodium dropped from 1515 to 1500mg per serving. Note that the recommended daily maximum for sodium is 2300mg.

So what are the new unhealthy options that are countering the salads?

Perhaps items such as Mighty Wings that we wrote about yesterday. Or, 99 cent burgers offered by many chains. Or, beverage choices such Dunkin Donuts Captain America Coolatta.

You’ll notice 2 types of messages coming from fast food establishments: the cheap tasty fun food pitch, and the healthy choices pitch. Which one do you think resonates more with the public?

  • Mike Luque

    I think people are believing the “we’re healthier” now pitch, which is obviously nonsense. I think it’s hilarious that the sodium only went down by 12 mg.

  • Carol H

    Actually, sodium didn’t go down, because 15 mg is an insignificant (1%) change, and the sodium content of restaurant food is so variable (one extra “dash” can easily add 100 mg) that not rounding to the nearest 50 mg doesn’t even make sense (regulations require that it be to the nearest 10 mg when above 140 mg, so 1515 wouldn’t be valid anyway). At least the food is well-preserved if you let it sit in the car for a couple hours ;-)

  • Nicole G

    Still GMOs……

  • Flora R

    If people demanded that their food was healthier (GMO or not, both can have bad nutritional value) then things would change; obviously there is still a HUGE market for fast food the way it is; why would a company that wants to make money change?