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Side dishes can pack on pounds

Oct. 9, 2007 at 4:36 PM   |   Comments

ITHACA, N.Y., Oct. 9 (UPI) -- U.S. adults who dine at so-called healthy restaurant food chains may eat more calories than at restaurants that make no health claims, a study found.

Brian Wansink of Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y., and author of "Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think" found that simply asking people to reconsider restaurants' health claims prompts them to better estimate calories and not to order as many side dishes.

"We found that when people go to restaurants claiming to be healthy, such as Subway, they choose additional side items containing up to 131 percent more calories than when they go to restaurants like McDonald's, that don't make this claim," Wansink said in a statement.

The study, published in the online version of the Journal of Consumer Research, found that many people also tend to underestimate by 35 percent just how many calories the healthy restaurant foods contain.

The researchers also report that by simply asking people to reconsider restaurants' health claims prompts them to better estimate calories and not to order as many side dishes.

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