The so-called “made dishes”, which are served in several restaurants around the world, were used as part of an international study that analyzed the caloric value of traditional meals from 6 countries.
The exaggerated size of the portions drew attention for the excess of calories, which reached up to 1600kcal per meal.
Adding two per day (lunch and dinner), consumption exceeds the average calorie recommendation – between 2000kcal and 2500kcal -, which results in increased body weight and risk of obesity .
It is worth remembering that the necessary amount of calories can vary from person to person, and must take into account health, lifestyle and even the profession.
For example, a person who does a lot of physical exercise at work will have a much higher caloric expenditure than someone who works in the office and remains seated for a long time.
In this case, it is important that in addition to the energy value of the meal, the nutrients offered to the body and individual needs are also considered.
The research paid attention only to the average calories and did not evaluate the nutritional value of the meals, that is, the vitamins and minerals.
But all the dishes had the traditional rice with beans , meat, salad and variable side dishes, traditional foods of the national taste. Although balanced, it is the size and quantity of each food group that raises concern.
For example, salads generally took up little space on the plate, while meats and side dishes predominated.
“Our conclusion is that we need to pay attention to the amount of food we eat, not only in fast food, but also in restaurants that serve the complete meal”, explains Vivian Marques, researcher responsible for the study in Brazil in an interview with the BBC.
Published in the British Medical Journal recently, the research was based on the prevalence of obesity, which is at epidemic levels worldwide.
Popular restaurants in six countries, China, India, the United States, Finland, Ghana and Brazil had their dishes analyzed.
The objective was to measure the energy content of meals in restaurants and fast foods in 5 countries to compare values with the United States.
Making an average between the energy value of each meal, the Brazilian dish without drink and without dessert is about 1200kcal, but some restaurants had options with more than 1600.
The recommendation according to the public health service in England is that adult women and men consume about 2000kcal and 2500kcal per day, respectively.
Thus, in general, dishes have approximately half the daily requirement of a man and 60% of a woman. In addition to the other meals of the day, the recommended daily amount can easily be exceeded.
Comparing the results with the other participating countries, China had smaller meals and, therefore, with less calories, while the other countries had very approximate values.
Another important fact is that, contrary to what most people think, fast food meals had 33% less calories than full dishes. But it is worth remembering that snacks are generally less nutritious and healthy compared to dishes made.
In the end, the research pointed out that the problem is not only in the meal, but in the quantity and size. So even a balanced dish can result in balance problems.
Asking restaurants to reduce portion sizes is an option for those who want to eat the right amount, but it is also worth sharing the dish with someone else and even wrapping the rest and taking it home.