What do you enjoy reading the most here on my blog?

Search My Blog

Monday, October 01, 2007

McDonald's Causes Better Eating Habits Than Subway!

And no, I'm not talking about the wussification of McDonald's with the inclusion of salads and parfaits and whatnot. I'm talking about good ol' fashioned Big Macs versus Subway and their Italian sub sandwiches. And you wouldn't believe it, but the Big Macs led to better eating habits than the Subway options. The researcher uses terms like "health halo" for Subway and "health shadow" for McDonald's, but what it all comes down to is that you don't have a freaking clue what's healthy for you and what's not, so you base your guess on asinine advertisements and screw yourself over in the end.

Super Size Me, Jared!

Jared and his whiny little commercials about how all McDonald's food is bad for you and Subway is nothing but sweet angel food that reduces your waistline simply by cramming it down your throat. We've all seen them. So here's what this researcher did: he gave 46 graduate students a coupon for a McDonald's Big Mac, which at the time had about 600 calories, or a Subway 12-inch Italian sub with meat, cheese and mayonnaise, which had about 900 calories. The students weren't told the number of calories in their sandwiches. Participants also were given a menu and asked to indicate what extras they would like to order, if anything.

Thanks to the "health halo" - these students thought that since they made the "right decision" by opting for Subway, and decided to reward themselves for it with what they probably assumed was a caloric difference - ordering cookies and sodas and whatnot. Those with the Subway coupon ended up ordering a meal with an average 1,011 calories. Those with the McDonald's coupon got meals with an average of 648 calories.

Following those lines of logic, in a second test, the calorie count of the coupons were set even at about 600 calories. Not surprisingly, people ate more snacks later in the day if they had eaten a Subway sandwich than a Big Mac. I personally would have liked to see a little interview data about which coupon option left the participant feeling more full or more satisfied. Perhaps the extra snacking isn't JUST due to the "health halo" of thinking you can spare the calories because you ate healthier - maybe it's just that they were hungry again in less time because it was less filling. I personally feel hungier again earlier in the day after eating Subway than I do after eating McDonald's.

More research was indeed done in these studies, though not my idea of fullness. These questions were about guessing how many calories had been consumed, trying to prove that the "health halo" indeed was a culprit. Could the average person accurately guess how many calories they'd consumed at McDonald's or Subway?

Brian Wansink and colleagues interviewed more than 500 people after they had eaten lunches at either Subway or McDonald's. The scientists also analyzed the calories in 320 meals that included a main dish, side order and beverage. Those meals ranged from turkey sandwiches and Italian subs with chips and soda to cheeseburgers or Big Macs with fries and beverages. People who consumed about 1,327 calories at a meal underestimated the calories by an average of 484 at McDonald's and 681 at Subway. That's a 36% margin of error at McDonald's, compared to a 51% margin of error at Subway.

"There's a double curse to the health halo because you grossly underestimate the calories, and you overeat afterward because you think you deserve it," Wansink says.

Okay, so McDonald's isn't actually "healthier" than Subway. I'll still give you that. I'm sure that fat content and sodium levels are probably way worse at McDonald's than they are in the Subway alternatives, even if you're chowing down the same amount of pure calories. But odds are that you're STILL going to screw that up if you're using your little Subway "health halo" to scarf down junk food later on because you think you deserve the treat for "eating healthy". In the end, your eating habits will IMPROVE if you eat bad food and ADMIT that you're eating bad food. Admitting to delving into a guilty pleasure means you'll feel GUILTY about it and will eat LESS afterwards or make it up some other way. On the other hand, eating health halo food can have MORE calories and leave you feeling like you deserve MORE food because of it.

Accept the science, and stop trusting Jared and his stupid commercials.

McDonald's leads to better eating habits than Subway. Chew on THAT, Jared!

And yes, he'd probably want some fries with that.

(Article with the research)

No comments: