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ARS Home » Northeast Area » Boston, Massachusetts » Jean Mayer Human Nutrition Research Center On Aging » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #360477

Research Project: Cardiovascular Nutrition and Health

Location: Jean Mayer Human Nutrition Research Center On Aging

Title: Sodium, saturated fat, and trans fat content per 1,000 kilocalories: temporal trends in fast-food restaurants, United States, 2000-2013

Author
item Urban, Lorien - Jean Mayer Human Nutrition Research Center On Aging At Tufts University
item Roberts, Susan - Jean Mayer Human Nutrition Research Center On Aging At Tufts University
item Fierstein, Jamie - Tufts University
item Gary, Christine - Tufts University
item Lichtenstein, Alice - Jean Mayer Human Nutrition Research Center On Aging At Tufts University

Submitted to: Preventing Chronic Disease
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 8/31/2014
Publication Date: 12/31/2014
Citation: Urban, L.E., Roberts, S., Fierstein, J.L., Gary, C.E., Lichtenstein, A.H. 2014. Sodium, saturated fat, and trans fat content per 1,000 kilocalories: temporal trends in fast-food restaurants, United States, 2000-2013. Preventing Chronic Disease. 11:E228. https://doi.org/10.5888/pcd11.140335.
DOI: https://doi.org/10.5888/pcd11.140335

Interpretive Summary: Intakes of sodium, saturated fat, and trans fat remain high despite recommendations to limit these nutrients for heart disease and type 2 diabetes risk reduction. A major contributor to intake of these nutrients is foods prepared outside the home, particularly from three fast-food hamburger chains restaurants. We obtained data on sodium, saturated fat, and trans fat content for these items from 2000 through 2013. The amount of each nutrient per 1,000 kcal was calculated to determine whether there were trends in product reformulation. Sodium content per 1,000 kcal differed widely among the 3 chains by food item. During the 14-year period, sodium content for large French fries remained high for all 3 chains, although the range narrowed from 316-2,000 mg in 2000 to 700-1,420 mg per 1,000 kcal in 2013. Among the items assessed, cheeseburgers were the main contributor of saturated fat, and there was little change in content per 1,000 kcal for this item during the 14-year period. In contrast, there was a sharp decline in saturated and trans fat content of large French fries. Post-2009, the major contributor of trans fat per 1,000 kcal was cheeseburgers; trans fat content of this item remained stable during the 14-year period. With the exception of French fries, little evidence was found during the 14-year period of product reformulation by restaurants to become more consistent with dietary guidance to reduce intakes of sodium and saturated fat.

Technical Abstract: INTRODUCTION: Intakes of sodium, saturated fat, and trans fat remain high despite recommendations to limit these nutrients for cardiometabolic risk reduction. A major contributor to intake of these nutrients is foods prepared outside the home, particularly from fast-food restaurants. METHODS: We analyzed the nutrient content of frequently ordered items from 3 US national fast-food chains: fried potatoes (large French fries), cheeseburgers (2-oz and 4-oz), and a grilled chicken sandwich. We used an archival website to obtain data on sodium, saturated fat, and trans fat content for these items from 2000 through 2013. The amount of each nutrient per 1,000 kcal was calculated to determine whether there were trends in product reformulation. RESULTS: Sodium content per 1,000 kcal differed widely among the 3 chains by food item, precluding generalizations across chains. During the 14-year period, sodium content per 1,000 kcal for large French fries remained high for all 3 chains, although the range narrowed from 316-2,000 mg per 1,000 kcal in 2000 to 700-1,420 mg per 1,000 kcal in 2013. Among the items assessed, cheeseburgers were the main contributor of saturated fat, and there was little change in content per 1,000 kcal for this item during the 14-year period. In contrast, there was a sharp decline in saturated and trans fat content of large French fries per 1,000 kcal. Post-2009, the major contributor of trans fat per 1,000 kcal was cheeseburgers; trans fat content of this item remained stable during the 14-year period. CONCLUSION: With the exception of French fries, little evidence was found during the 14-year period of product reformulation by restaurants to become more consistent with dietary guidance to reduce intakes of sodium and saturated fat.