Consumers get it wrong when counting fast food calories

A study of more than 3000 US diners found the bigger the meal, the greater the underestimation of calories at six fast food chains: McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s, KFC, Dunkin’ Donuts and Subway.

The mean actual kilocalorie content of meals was 836 calories for adults, 756 calories for adolescents and 733 calories for school children.

Adolescents showed the greatest underestimation, at a mean of 259 calories.

At least two-thirds of all participants underestimated the calorie content of their meals, with about a quarter underestimating the calorie content by at least 500 calories.

The study also found Subway enjoyed a “health halo”, with customers estimating as much as a 25% lower calorie content than McDonald’s diners did for their meals.