Courses at fast casual restaurants have a higher average calorie count than fast food establishments, according to researchers from the Arnold School of Public Health in the US.
The research found that an average meal at a fast casual restaurant is 200 calories higher than a typical fast food meal. The fast casual restaurants also have more high-calorie options on their menus than fast food restaurants.
Comparing more than 3,000 entrees, they found the average fast-casual meal had 200 more calories than the average fast food meal. Overall, more of the fast-casual dishes were at the high end of the calorie range as well.
The researchers analysed the menus at 34 fast food and 28 fast casual restaurants, finding that fast food entrees had an average of 760 calories per entrée compared to 561 for fast food entrées.
Also, a greater proportion of fast casual restaurant entrées exceeded the median of 640 calories per entrée.
“We were surprised that there were higher calories at fast casual restaurants, but one of the main takeaways from the paper is that there are a lot of high-calorie options at both kinds of restaurants,” said Danielle Schoffman, the lead researcher.
“There has been such growth in this fast casual industry,” said fellow researcher BrieTurner-McGrievy said. “We wanted to see if these fast casual restaurants would be a better choice for people who are watching their calorie intake. Are people who are looking to lose weight and cut calories better off going to Chipotle or Burger King?”