Subway may not be a much healthier alternative than McDonald's for adolescents, say UCLA researchers. In a study in the Journal of Adolescent Health, the researchers found that adolescents who purchased Subway meals consumed nearly as many calories as they did at McDonald's.
Specifically, the researchers found that the participants bought meals containing an average of 1,038 calories at McDonald's and an average of 955 calories at Subway. Experts recommend that school lunches not exceed 850 calories. An adolescent should consume an average of about 2,400 calories in a day.
Other findings from the study include:
- The sandwiches purchased by participants contained an average of 784 calories at Subway versus 572 calories at McDonald's.
- Participants purchased sugary drinks averaging 61 calories at Subway, and 151 calories at McDonald's.
- Customers in the study purchased side items such as french fries and potato chips that added an average of 35 calories at Subway compared with 201 calories at McDonald's.
- Participants consumed 102 grams of carbohydrates at Subway; 128 grams at McDonald's.
- The meals contained an average of 36 grams of sugar at Subway; 54 grams at McDonald's.
- Sodium intake averaged 2,149 mg at Subway; 1,829 mg at McDonald's.
"The nutrient profile at Subway was slightly healthier, but the food still contained three times the amount of salt that the Institute of Medicine recommends," said Lenard Lesser, who led the study. The authors speculate that the higher sodium content of the Subway meals likely came from the restaurant's processed meats. Processed meats are associated with obesity, cardiovascular disease and cancer.
"Every day, millions of people eat at McDonald's and Subway, the two largest fast food chains in the world," concluded Lesser. "With childhood obesity at record levels, we need to know the health impact of kids' choices at restaurants." He recommends that McDonald's customers eliminate sugary drinks and french fries from their meals. "And if you go to Subway, opt for smaller subs, and ask for less meat and double the amount of veggies."
Discuss this article in our forum
Surprising large increase in diabetes risk from just one soda per day
Fatty food withdrawal can trigger depression
Soda consumption linked to muscle problems
Source: University of California - Los Angeles Health Sciences