96% of restaurant entrees exceed USDA limits


Is anyone surprised by that news?

This image implies that if you don’t have that “dairy” in the top right corner, then it is not a complete meal.

And exactly what do we learn from the 18-month study by the Rand Corporation that was funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation? My first thought is—what a colossal waste of money. (See link to USA Today source article below)

A whopping 96% of main entrees sold at top U.S. chain eateries exceed daily limits for calories, sodium, fat and saturated fat recommended by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, reports the 18-month study conducted by the Rand Corp. and funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

“If you’re eating out tonight, your chances of finding an entree that’s truly healthy are painfully low,” says Helen Wu, assistant policy analyst at Rand who oversaw the study. It examined the nutritional content of 30,923 menu items from 245 restaurant brands across the USA. “The restaurant industry needs to make big changes to be part of the solution,” she says.

If you know anything at all about the USDA dietary guidelines, you know that they are nowhere close to describing a health-promoting diet; one that would in fact reverse heart disease, type 2 diabetes and some cancers. Every child’s meal is likely to have some form of animal protein along with a cold glass of cow’s milk—neither of which will promote health. The study only checked to see if the menu item fell within the USDA limits for calories, sodium, fat and saturated fat.

Apparently they examined almost 31,000 entrees from 245 restaurant brands across the USA. So with 4% of the meals falling within the USDA limits, that means that over 1200 of those meals were deemed to be healthy. But they didn’t tell us which items they were, but I would be willing to bet that possibly none of them were 4Leaf, deriving over 80% of their calories from whole plants.

The benefit of publicizing this study. It might get the attention of a few million folks. Most of them will blame it on the restaurants, some will blame it on the government, a few will cut back on eating out and a tiny minority might even begin examining all of their meals. A precious few may even join our grassroots revolution to make things right.

But sadly, hardly anyone knows what a truly healthy meal looks like. And they won’t get much helpful information from the American Dietetic Association or any of the disease-specific websites like the American Cancer Society. The average consumer has almost no chance of eating a healthy diet. And we wonder why the rates of type 2 diabetes and obesity are skyrocketing while heart disease and cancer remain our number one killers.

Who is to blame for this mess? Well, it’s not just the restaurant industry. They’re just giving people what they want and none of those people give a hoot about the USDA limits. Here’s one response to the study from a restaurant spokesman:

The restaurant industry is “employing a wide range” of healthier-living strategies, says Joan McGlockton, vice president of food policy at the National Restaurant Association. Among them: putting nutritional information on menus, adding more healthful items and launching a 2011 program at nearly 100 brands in more than 25,000 locations that offers children’s meals in line with 2010 dietary guidelines.

The Bottom Line. Everything begins with education, most of which is controlled by our federal, state and local governments. But it also includes our schools of nutrition, most of which are controlled by unhealthy food producers like the meat and dairy industry. As for blaming the president of the United States or members of Congress for these problems—none of those people would get elected if they ran on a platform of eliminating  meat, dairy and eggs from our diet.

Published by BenBella — October 2011

What about our medical doctors? They’re no help either because they weren’t taught very much about nutrition in med school and the health care system provides no incentives for helping people prevent or reverse disease. All of the money is in testing, conducting procedures and prescribing drugs. And, as we explained in Chapter 8 of our book, those drug companies are now controlling the curriculums of our schools of medicine.

Who is going to fix this mess? Look in the mirror. It’s going to take a grass-roots revolution that has already begun. Fortunately, as you join that revolution, you get rewarded with vibrant health and all of your descendants will learn how to avoid most disease throughout their lives.

Ready to take charge of your own health and teach your children the secret to a long and healthy life? Are you interested in helping to change our completely dysfunctional system when it comes to our health? Then this is a good place to start. After you’re done with this simple kit, share it with your family and friends.

Handy 4-piece take-charge-of-your-health kit—from Amazon.com

Want to find out how healthy your family is eating? Take our free 4Leaf Diagnostic Survey. It takes less than five minutes and you can score it yourself. After taking the survey, please give me your feedback as it will be helpful in the development of our future 4Leaf app for smartphones. Send feedback to jmorrishicks@me.com

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J. Morris Hicks, working daily to promote health, hope and harmony on planet Earth.

For help in your own quest to take charge of your health, you might find some useful information at our 4Leaf page or some great recipes at Lisa’s 4Leaf Kitchen.

Got a question? Let me hear from you at jmorrishicks@me.com. Or give me a call on my cell at 917-399-9700.

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Blogging daily at hpjmh.com…from the seaside village of Stonington, Connecticut – Be well and have a great day.

—J. Morris Hicks, board member, T. Colin Campbell Foundation

About J. Morris Hicks

A former strategic management consultant and senior corporate executive with Ralph Lauren in New York, J. Morris Hicks has always focused on the "big picture" when analyzing any issue. In 2002, after becoming curious about our "optimal diet," he began a study of what we eat from a global perspective ---- discovering many startling issues and opportunities along the way. In addition to an MBA and a BS in Industrial Engineering, he holds a certificate in plant-based nutrition from the T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies, where he has also been a member of the board of directors since 2012. Having concluded that our food choices hold the key to the sustainability of our civilization, he has made this his #1 priority---exploring all avenues for influencing humans everywhere to move back to the natural plant-based diet for our species.
This entry was posted in Activism & Leadership, Food Policy and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to 96% of restaurant entrees exceed USDA limits

  1. Bernadine T. Shea says:

    Jim, Thanks for your daily blog!!!! It helps to keep me focused on what is important…
    Much appreciation! Bernadine PS “Pot Luck” on 7/22 was absolutely fantastic!!!!!!

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