A new study has compared fast food and table service meals at restaurants. Both types of meals are larger and have more calories than meals prepared at home. However, the typical fast food meal is smaller and has fewer calories than the average meal from a table service restaurant.
The study used data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Continuing Survey of Food Intakes by Individuals, a large sample of information regarding nutritional intake.
Fast food was found to be more energy dense than food from a table service restaurant, but fast food meals also tend to be smaller. As a result, the typical fast food meal had fewer calories than the average meal from a table service restaurant.
However, table service diners were more likely to reduce their food consumption during the rest of the day, most likely because of the difference in energy density. As a result, fast food may ultimately result in more calories.