How many calories are in your favorite fast-food meal? Study says: you’re underestimating

chain restaurant burger

A hamburger like this has well over 500 calories

A new study revealed that fast-food diners are vastly underestimating the calories in their meals. The research goes on to show that the problem is most predominant in young people. Teenagers, for example, believed that their food had as little as one-third of the actual amount of calories present in their meal.

The study selected establishments such as McDonald’s, Subway, KFC, Wendy’s, Dunkin’ Donuts and Burger King in cities located in a region of the U.S. where nutritional information is not required to be posted on the menu. At each establishment they surveyed 3 groups (adults, adolescents and parents of school-age children) and found that all 3 groups underestimated the amount of calories in their meals by as much as 34%.

It’s interesting to note, that since legislation was passed in 2009 that requires chain restaurants in King County, WA to label menus with caloric information, the average caloric intake of customers was reduced by 154.3 per meal.

This suggests that awareness is an important factor for making healthy choices. Educate yourself on what you’re eating, you will be surprised how quickly you can find this information online. In addition, your doctor is always willing to talk with you about your health, just ask!

To see the nutrition information for most major fast food chains you can visit

Dr. Phillip Gamble
Chiropractic Physician, TPI Certified Golf Fitness Instructor
405 Illinois Ave. Ste B
St. Charles, IL 60174


Clayton C. Consumers Underestimate calories in fast-food meals; teens do so by as much as 34 percent. Press Release by Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Healthy Eating Research Program. Published online May 23, 2013.

Krieger J, et al. Menu labeling regulations and calories purchased at chain restaurants. American Journal of Preventive Medicine 2013; 44(6): 595-604.

About whiteoakwell

White Oak Family Wellness is a whole health clinic located in St. Charles, IL. Services include chiropractic, acupuncture and nutrition. Additionally, each doctor has specialized training in different fields: Dr. Neha Shah specializes in pediatric care, maternal and prenatal wellness and neurodevelopmental disorders of children. Dr. Phillip Gamble specializes in rehab, corrective exercises as well as golf fitness.
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