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Fast food chains are upping the amount of calories and sodium in their products

Between 2012 and 2016, the products that fast food chains sell to their customers have become even less healthy than they already were. They now contain even more calories and salt than five years ago, researchers from New Zealand discovered.

Health scientists from the University of Auckland monitored the size and composition of 5468 types of fast food that were sold in New Zealand by 10 fast food chains.

During the studied period, the portions became a bit larger. [Figure] At the same time, the amount of energy per gram of fast food increased. [Figure] The result of these two tendencies is shown below. The already considerable amount of kilocalories per serving increased by 13 percent between 2012 and 2016.

Fast food chains are upping the amount of calories and sodium in their products

For sodium the situation was slightly more nuanced. The fast food chains had reduced the composition of a number of products. As a result, the amount of sodium per gram of fast food did not increase, and there was even a tendency to decrease. [Figure] But because the portion size increased, in 2016 a serving yielded 11 percent more sodium than in 2012.

Fast food chains are upping the amount of calories and sodium in their products

"In conclusion, New Zealand fast foods have become larger and more energy dense over the past 5 years", summarize the researchers. "Lower sodium concentration in new and reformulated products has been offset by overall increases in serve size."

Nutr J. 2018 Jul 9;17(1):65.

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