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After a long week at the office or another hectic day running errands, who has the energy to cook when dinner time finally rolls around? But before you swing through the nearest drive-thru or gather the family and head to that new restaurant in town, here’s something to consider: your nutrition—and your waistline—may be in danger.

A new study conducted by researchers at the American Cancer Society and the University of Illinois at Chicago gathered data from more than 12,000 people across the country and found that dining out had a significant impact on their overall nutrition. Whether they opted for fast food or full-service dining, Americans consumed more calories, sugar, fat and sodium than they would if they had prepared a meal at home. Below is a by-the-numbers breakdown of what researchers found:

Eating Fast Food:

  • 194.49 more calories
  • 3.48 g more saturated fat
  • 3.95 g more sugar
  • 296.38 mg more sodium

Eating at a Full-service Restaurant:

  • 205.21 more calories
  • 2.52 g more saturated fat
  • 451.06 mg more sodium

Similar studies have also found that Americans tend to eat fewer fruits and vegetables when we take a trip through the drive-thru, resulting in a more calories and fewer important vitamins. Study author Dr. Binh T. Nguyen worries that our fondness for eating out may be the reason the United States is one of the most obese nations in the world. “Our study confirms that adults’ fast-food and full-service restaurant consumption was associated with higher daily total energy intake and poorer dietary indicators,” he said in a recent article.

The good news? Having a quick and healthy dinner at home is not as daunting a task as it may seem. Do yourself a favor and plan ahead by shopping for key ingredients and preparing a weekly menu on Saturday or Sunday. You can even chop veggies or trim meats ahead of time for super quick preparation, and getting kids involved in the cooking process can make it feel like more of a family activity and less of a chore.

For delicious, healthful and easy-to-prepare meals the whole family can enjoy, be sure to visit our online Recipe Center!

Written by Renew Life

Established in 1997, Renew Life is the leading natural digestive care and cleansing company in America and the recipient of numerous industry awards for product quality, purity and efficacy. Led by co-founder and renowned digestive care and nutrition expert Brenda Watson C.N.C., the Renew Life community of health-minded educators is committed to empowering consumers with knowledge necessary to achieve and maintain vibrant, lasting health. Sign up today to receive Brenda’s Healthy Living eNewsletter full of do-it-yourself tips, recipes, and exclusive offers!

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‡These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. The material on this page is for consumer informational and educational purposes only, under section 5 of DSHEA.

Disclaimer: Nothing in this website is intended as, or should be construed as, medical advice. Consumers should consult with their own health care practitioners for individual, medical recommendations. The information in this website concerns dietary supplements, over-the-counter products that are not drugs. Our dietary supplement products are not intended for use as a means to cure, treat, prevent, diagnose, or mitigate any disease or other medical or abnormal condition.

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