Can Fast Food Really be Healthy?

Fast Food

The research is saying no way!  Despite the best efforts of popular fast food chains to sell us on the idea that having a fruit cup alongside our double-bacon cheeseburger is a healthy combination, new studies show that greasy fast food companies have done little over the past couple decades to change their unhealthy ingredients and preparation.  

Even though your drive-thru meal may have catchy commercials boasting about their new emphasis on health, do not be fooled, and make healthy choices when you’re looking for food on the go.

But burgers and fries aren’t all that bad, right?

Unfortunately, a new study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, revealed that fast food meals have only improved three percent in their nutriotional content, since 1997!  Although the commercials and bags have changed, the fat content remains.

In fact, the study even takes a look at marketing and claims that the use of the words “healthy” and “low-fat” have increased by 86 percent, but the meals themselves don’t always prove to be either healthy or low in fat.

How do you measure what is healthy?

This study was performed using the USDA’s healthy eating index, which scores health using a scale of 1 to 100 with 100 being most healthy.  From 1997 to 2010, the top fast food chains improved from a score of 45 to 48.  A 48 out of 100 is a pretty poor showing, especially since the USDA rates the diet of the average American with a score of 50.

Many fast food restaurants are claiming to be more health conscious than before with popular promotions, and substituting unhealthy items like french fries for fresh apple slices, but there are many things to take into consideration with food choices.  Hidden sugar and massive portions also make fast food splurges a recipe for health problems.

What are the alternatives?

It is important to plan ahead, and prepare your own meals.  Take some extra time to pack a lunch before you leave for work.  Reach for a piece of fruit instead of retreating to the drive-thru.  The fact of the matter is that fast food is not healthy to eat regularly.  This new study reiterates what many of us already know and accept.  Although there seem to be many more healthy options out there, these so-called healthy choices aren’t healthy enough.

“This tiny increase is disappointing, and a bit surprising, given the many pronouncements by companies that they have added healthier menu options, switched to healthier cooking fats, are reducing sodium, and are touting other changes in company press releases and advertising,” states Margo Wootan, the director of nutrition policy at the Center for Science in the Public Interest.  And until these restaurants make more significant improvements, be healthy and opt for fresh wholesome choices.  


If you are looking to implement any new dietary changes, always consult your chiropractor or primary care physician.

Story Credit, Image Credit: Fast Food by Stefoul.  Used under a Creative Commons license.

This article is made available for general, entertainment and educational purposes only. The opinions expressed herein do not necessarily reflect those of The Joint Corp (or its franchisees and affiliates). You should always seek the advice of a licensed healthcare professional.