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Subway Just as Unhealthy as McDonald’s !?

fast food calories high fat high sodium “health halo”

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#1 Hum


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Posted 21 May 2013 - 14:37

If you watched the London Olympics last summer, you saw a parade of top athletes touting the nutritional qualities of their favorite eatery: Subway. Watching Apolo Ohno or Robert Griffin III bite into a veggie footlong with avocado or hearing that Subway is “the official training restaurant of athletes everywhere,” you might get the idea that the food served at the chain isn’t that bad for you—that it’s even healthy.

Think again.

Researchers from the University of California Los Angeles found that despite claims to the contrary, Subway is just as unhealthy as the oft-reviled golden arches of McDonald’s—which long had the most locations in the country of any fast-food chain until Subway surpassed it in 2011.

“Every day, millions of people eat at McDonald’s and Subway, the two largest fast food chains in the world,” Dr. Lenard Lesser—who led the research while a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Clinical Scholar in the department of family medicine at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health—said in the UCLA statement. “With childhood obesity at record levels, we need to know the health impact of kids’ choices at restaurants.”

Lesser, who is now a researcher at the Palo Alto Medical Foundation Research Institute, did so by recruiting 97 adolescents, ages 12 to 21, to purchase meals at McDonald’s and Subway restaurants at a shopping mall in Carson, CA. The young people consumed an average of 1,038 calories at McDonald’s. They consumed an average of 955 calories at Subway—a statistically insignificant difference from McDonald’s. The Institute of Medicine recommends that students consume no more than 850 calories in school lunches.

While total calories were slightly lower at Subway, the average calories per sandwich purchased and sodium content were both higher at Subway. The Subway sandwiches contained an average of 784 calories, versus 572 at McDonald’s. The sodium content at both restaurants was three times higher than the IOM recommended daily dose: 2,149 mg at Subway versus 1,829 mg at McDonald’s.

While the results may surprise the average consumer, they did not catch nutritionist Lisa R. Young off guard. At fast-food restaurants commonly thought to be healthier, Young says customers may even eat worse than they would at a chain thought to be less healthy—a phenomenon known as the “health halo.” Because diners assume they’re eating healthier overall, they may not pay close enough attention to the nutritional content of what they’re ordering. And at the end of the day, Subway and McDonald’s are still fast food.

“I do not recommend fast food if you want to eat healthy,” says Young, author of The Portion Teller’s Diet. “With a few exceptions, fast food is still fast food—high in fat and calories.”


#2 t_r_nelson


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Posted 21 May 2013 - 14:42

Maybe the average is higher but I can guarantee I'll end up with a healthier sandwich if I pick what I'm going to have on it. Skip the cheese, mayo, oil, sauces. Put on baby spinach, cucumbers, tomato, etc..

#3 +Nik L

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Posted 21 May 2013 - 14:48

If you watched the London Olympics last summer, you saw a parade of top athletes touting the nutritional qualities of their favorite eatery:

No... No I did not. The BBC coverage did not contain adverts ;)

#4 majortom1981


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Posted 21 May 2013 - 14:49

This study has a HUGE flaw which they kind of hint at. At subway you can make your sub a lot healthier. I usually get only vinegar on my sub which has 0 calories . I also pick the one with the least amount of calories listed to start with.

They basically wrote down the calories of what people were ordering. Based on this they say subway is just as bad. Also by the looks of it the fries were not counted in their calories counting for mcdonalds.

#5 Jason Stillion

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Posted 21 May 2013 - 14:50

Subway you have the choice to eat healthy or unhealthy.
This review shows that consumers choice to eat unhealthy at Subway.

#6 spacer


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Posted 21 May 2013 - 14:52

True the caloric difference might be insignificant. But what about the fat content, cholesterol, oil? There are many, many other things that make food healthy or unhealthy. Did this "study" even bother to look at the other stuff?

#7 +Yorak



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Posted 21 May 2013 - 14:54

The idiots that did the research were probably having them load it up with extra meat, cheese and sauces. How dumb can you be to not realize that adding those things also adds calories, carbohydrates, sodium, etc.?

#8 Mr. Dee

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Posted 21 May 2013 - 15:05

I never been to one, but the next time I travel to the states I am going check one out.

#9 Andre S.

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Posted 21 May 2013 - 15:15

Calories are not really a problem unless they come from fructose, so it'd be interesting to know where these calories come from in Subway sandwiches vs a typical McDonald meal. If people order a large soft drink with their Subway sandwich then it's not really the sandwich that's the problem. ;)

I'm more worried about the sodium content, 2000+mg is an astounding amount, how do they manage to put that much? Extra salt? BBQ sauce?

#10 OP Hum


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Posted 21 May 2013 - 15:19

Maybe the average is higher but I can guarantee I'll end up with a healthier sandwich if I pick what I'm going to have on it. Skip the cheese ...

Sacrilege ! :o

#11 leesmithg


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Posted 21 May 2013 - 15:20

As long as you do enough exercise to burn up the calories you don't need for normal respiration then the 'healthy' argument falls flat on it's face.

If you eat 5,000 calories (equal to 1lb of calorie mass) but, however do enough exercise (as a man 2,500, woman 3,000) to burn off the excess

then eat 5 big macs and a bucket of French fried if they equate to 2,500 (man) 3,000 (woman) respectively to calorific value.

#12 BillyJack



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Posted 21 May 2013 - 15:28

If they want to do research on healthy fast food they need to include all aspects of the food. It is not just about calories. How about sugar, salt, preservatives, and chemicals.

#13 theyarecomingforyou


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Posted 21 May 2013 - 15:28

Subway differs to the competition in that it offers customers what they want. That means it can be very healthy (e.g. a 6" low fat sub with low fat sauce) or very unhealthy (e.g. a 12" meatball sub with cheese and mayo). It really is up to the individual. The one area I would say criticism is due is the constant push to upsell larger subs and meal deals, which is little different to the "supersize" scandal that hit McDonald's.

#14 The Laughing Man

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Posted 21 May 2013 - 15:31

Subway is garbage regardless of the study.

#15 psionicinversion


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Posted 21 May 2013 - 15:44

You probably expect the people in the study that eat the unhealthy stuff to also eat unhealthy anyway so, just a normal day. they should of got ppl who were health freaks to unhealthy eaters to do the study and find out what they would have and what group ordered what. whether they chose to reduce what was on there sandwich or increase it etc