When it comes to fast food, most Americans don’t know how many calories they’re consuming, according to a new study that surveyed 3,400 adults, teens and parents of school-age children who visited 89 popular fast food restaurants. Jason Block of Harvard Medical School and Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Institute and his colleagues asked them to estimate what they thought they’d eaten, then gathered their receipts and totaled up the actual calories. Their studies show teens predicted a lower calorie intake by 34% , while the parents of school-aged children underestimated the calories by 23% and adults by 20%.
According to the British Medical Association, one-fourth of the participants underestimated the calories in their meals by at least 500 calories. Participants who dined at healthier option Subway actually underestimated the calories in their orders by a larger amount than diners at McDonald’s, Burger King, KFC, Wendy’s and Dunkin’ Donuts.
“These large underestimations show that diners don’t really know what they are eating in terms of calorie content, and they need this information to help guide their choices, “ says Block.
To get a headstart on understanding just how many calories can be packed into that small order of French fries, check out The Worst Fast Foods.