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Providing perspectives on recent research into vitamins and nutritionals


Eating in Restaurants, Traveling and Nutrition

By Michael McBurney

Having just finished a marathon trip with interrupted travel and long periods of time stuck in airports, it isn’t a happy moment to reflect on my diet. The food and beverage choices were limited. And apparently, so was the willpower!

Overeating when traveling should not be a surprise. In her July/August 2013 newsletter, Elizabeth Somer, references a nutrition study on the accuracy of restaurant-stated calorie labels. Urban and colleagues measured dietary energy content of foods from 42 restaurants using bomb calorimetry. The portion calorie counts were accurate, usually within 10 calories per portion, but the unnerving facts were the number of calories per portion. Some side dishes contained nearly 1,000 kcal per portion. Many meals provided enough calories for the entire day.

To help scientists analyze dietary patterns and nutrient intakes from foods and beverages commonly consumed in the American diet, the Beltsville Human Nutrition Research Center has just released new What We Eat in America food categories. There are 150 categories linked to over 7,000 food and beverages. The most recent 2009-2010 data shows that most adults (>20y) eat 33% of their food energy away from home (like in airports). Table 9 shows that similar percentages of micronutrients are eaten away from home. Unfortunately, while we may consume too many calories, we often don’t consume enough micronutrient-rich foods.

The 2nd National Report on Biochemical Indicators of Diet and Nutrition in the US Population, published in 2012, states that the prevalence of micronutrient deficiencies hasn’t changed much between 1999 to 2006. Roughly 10% of the general population has nutrient deficiencies. The nutrients of concern biochemically are vitamin B6, iron, vitamin D, and vitamin C. According to dietary surveys, the nutrients of concern are potassium, dietary fiber, calcium and vitamin D.

And to finish with our traveling analogy, Mind the “Nutrition” Gap! -mm-


Urban LE, McCrory MA, Dallal GE, Das SK, Saltzman E, Weber JL, Roberts SB. Accuracy of stated energy contents of restaurant foods. 2013 JAMA doi:10.1001/jama.2011.993