Why Fast Food’s ‘Healthier’ Menu Items Are Misleading

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Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/m-i-k-e/

Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/m-i-k-e/

In recent years, consumers have demanded healthier fast food options. Spurred on by movies like Super Size Me, investigations into what really is inside a chicken nugget and general wellness movements people wanted better-for-you choices. Companies responded with salads, apple slices, and calorie counts, but was the change merely cosmetic? Have companies managed to appear healthier without altering food in a way that actually, positively impacts health? By looking beyond the calorie content, it becomes evident that healthy fast food remains a mythical option.

The second ingredient in the yogurt in the Fruit ‘n Yogurt Parfait at McDonald’s is sugar, followed by modified food starch and fructose. It is a low-calorie option, containing only 150 calories. However, it has a measly 4 grams of protein and 23 grams of sugar. Of course, this problem isn’t limited to McDonald’s. YoCrunch is a pre-packaged yogurt parfait. It has a low calorie count and little protein, but it does manage to have less sugar at 16 grams.

However, when it comes to yogurt, both could do better. A serving of Dannon Light & Fit Greek Yogurt has 12 grams of protein and only 7 grams of sugar. Like the parfait at McDonald’s, the parfait at Starbucks has strawberries, blueberries, granola, and yogurt.  However, Starbucks uses Greek yogurt in its parfait, which has 14 grams of protein, 19 grams of sugar, and 220 calories. Calories cannot be the sole determinant of healthy options. A snack with more protein will leave a person feeling fuller longer, as well as cut down on snacking between meals.

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