In addition to increased media scrutiny, there have been high-profile municipal laws imposed on fast food restaurants. A study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine reports dramatic changes made in the menus of the nation’s top 8 fast food franchises. But a closer look reveals that the more things change, the more they stay the same.

An analysis of data from 1997 to 2010 showed a 53% increase in the total number of food items available at fast food restaurants. Over 14 years, your choices went from 679 items to 1,036. Instead of just 11 salads, you now have 41, and where there were no sweat teas available in 1997, 35 different variations are offered today. Unfortunately, a dramatic reduction in the number of calories in main entrées or drinks hasn’t happened.

True Strength Moment: Although the average calories in side items did decrease from 264 to 219 calories, main items on lunch and dinner menus average 453 calories apiece. So if you add a sweet tea and fries to that main dish, you’re packing on a considerable amount of calories. When you consider that 28% of American adults dine on fast food at least twice a week, it’s easy to see how we have a problem with obesity.

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