While fast food restaurants recently have worked to market meal choices as healthy, it is unclear whether most individuals choose a healthy meal in these situations. To examine this question, this study examines whether adolescents purchasing food at Subway, a restaurant marketed as “healthy,” purchase fewer calories than at McDonald’s, a competing chain.
Conducted during May 2011, adolescents (97) aged 12 to 21 years of age in the South Los Angeles area participated. This study used each participant as his or her control to assess purchasing behavior. Adolescents ate a meal at each restaurant on different days, and submitted their receipts to the researchers for analysis.
Despite Subway being marketed as “healthy,” similar amounts of calories were ordered at McDonald’s, indicating that both of these fast food restaurants likely contribute to overeating.