McDonald's Healthier Than Subway? Restaurants Blamed For Teenage Obesity [REPORT]

By Staff Reporter on May 9, 2013 5:46 PM EDT

Subway
Subway meals average higher sodium than McDonald's meals, according to UCLA research. (Photo: Subway)

A new study revealed that Subway meals not only contain as many calories as McDonald's, but actually contains even more sodium.

Researchers from UCLA studied popular meals bought by teenagers in McDonald's and Subway restaurants.

"Every day, millions of people eat at McDonald's and Subway, the two largest fast food chains in the world," said lead researcher Dr. Lenard Lesser. "With childhood obesity at record levels, we need to know the health impact of kids' choices at restaurants."

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97 participants between the age of 12 and 21 purchased meals at McDonald's and Subway restaurants located at a California shopping center on weekdays between 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. The receipts are kept as a record to understand what meals the customer purchased in order to calculate the calorie count.

The study results are shocking. While school lunches are recommended to serve below 850 calories by the U.S. Institute of Medicine, Subway meals contain an average of 955 calories while McDonald's averaged 1,038 calories.

Based on sandwiches alone, Subway averaged 754 calories while the average McDonald's sandwich contains 572 calories. Beverages at Subways averaged 61 calories and 151 at McDonald's. Finally, Subway meals contained an average of 102 grams of carbohydrates, 36 grams of sugar, and an alarming 2,149 mg of salt. McDonald's contain 128 grams of carbohydrates, 54 grams of sugar, and 1,829 mg of salt.

"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 Dr. Lenard Lesser.

With an average of 320 mg more salt in Subway meals, Lesser suggests the higher content is largely caused by the restaurant's use of processed meat.

To tackle the problem of unhealthy diets, Lesser urges McDonald's customers to avoid sugary drinks and French fries from their orders. Subway customers are advised to avoid processed meats such as ham, salami, boloney and order ingredients such as grilled chicken instead.

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