Fast food looks healthier but it’s making us fatter than ever

Don’t kid yourself: Fast food is only getting less healthy, despite those wholesome menu items, such as salads and apples.

A new analysis of fast food menus over the past 30 years found that at the 10 most popular chains, such as McDonald’s and Burger King, things are only getting worse when it comes to diet factors like calories, sodium and portion size, according to a paper published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

The increasingly unhealthy food is bad news for the 37 percent of adults who eat fast food daily. Just one meal with an entree and side comes out to an average 767 calories — nearly 40 percent of a 2,000-calorie-a-day diet, the researchers said. That’s not including a soda, which can add up to half a person’s daily calorie intake and increase a person’s risk for heart disease.

Desserts were the worst culprits. On average, the sweet meal-enders climbed about 62 calories per decade, while entrees ballooned by 30 calories per decade. The researchers place the blame on growing portion size, which has risen by 13 grams per decade for entrees and 24 grams for desserts.

Meanwhile, obesity is rising at a staggering pace. Nearly one-quarter (22 percent) of the people in the world will be obese by 2045, up from 14 percent in 2017, according to research by the Danish healthcare company Novo Nordisk.

And sure, trends like the high-fat keto diet make it seem like you can eat all the chicken fingers you want and still lose weight, the researchers point out that overall, obesity and obesity-related chronic illness are among the leading causes of death in the US.

It’s not just fast food companies selling the illusion of health either: A study published earlier this month found that when menus appear to be written by hand, on a chalkboard for example, diners feel like they’re eating healthier food, even though the food itself could be the same amount of calories as menu items not written by hand.

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