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To evaluate five popular fast-food chains’ menus in relation to dietary guidance.
Menus posted on chains’ websites were coded using the Food and Nutrient Database for Dietary Studies and MyPyramid Equivalents Database to enable Healthy Eating Index-2005 (HEI-2005) scores to be assigned. Dollar or value and kids’ menus and sets of items promoted as healthy or nutritious were also assessed.
Five popular fast-food chains in the USA.
Full menus scored lower than 50 out of 100 possible points on the HEI-2005. Scores for Total Fruit, Whole Grains and Sodium were particularly dismal. Compared with full menus, scores on dollar or value menus were 3 points higher on average, whereas kids’ menus scored 10 points higher on average. Three chains marketed subsets of items as healthy or nutritious; these scored 17 points higher on average compared with the full menus. No menu or subset of menu items received a score higher than 72 out of 100 points.
The poor quality of fast-food menus is a concern in light of increasing away-from-home eating, aggressive marketing to children and minorities, and the tendency for fast-food restaurants to be located in low-income and minority areas. The addition of fruits, vegetables and legumes; replacement of refined with whole grains; and reformulation of offerings high in sodium, solid fats and added sugars are potential strategies to improve fast-food offerings. The HEI may be a useful metric for ongoing monitoring of fast-food menus.
We describe the methods used to develop and score a 17-item ‘screener’ designed to estimate intake of fruit and vegetables, percentage energy from fat and fibre. The ability of this screener and a food-frequency questionnaire (FFQ) to measure these exposures is evaluated.
Using US national food consumption data, stepwise multiple regression was used to identify the foods to be included on the instrument; multiple regression analysis was used to develop scoring algorithms. The performance of the screener was evaluated in three different studies. Estimates of intakes measured by the screener and the FFQ were compared with true usual intake based on a measurement error model.
US adult population.
For development of instrument, n = 9323 adults. For testing of instrument, adult men and women in three studies completing multiple 24-hour dietary recalls, FFQ and screeners, n = 484, 462 and 416, respectively.
Median recalled intakes for examined exposures were generally estimated closely by the screener. In the various validation studies, the correlations between screener estimates and estimated true intake were 0.5–0.8. In general, the performances of the screener and the full FFQ were similar; estimates of attenuation were lower for screeners than for full FFQs.
When coupled with appropriate reference data, the screener approach described may yield useful estimates of intake, for both surveillance and epidemiological purposes.
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