If you watched the London Olympics last summer, you saw – every couple of minutes, it seemed – a parade of top athletes touting the nutritional qualities of their favorite eatery: Subway.
Watching Apolo Ohno or Robert Griffin III bite into a veggie footlong with avocado or hearing that Subway is “the official training restaurant of athletes everywhere,” you might get the idea that the sandwich restaurant isn’t that bad for you – healthy, even.
Researchers from the University of California Los Angeles found that despite claims to the contrary, Subway is just as unhealthy as the oft-reviled golden arches of McDonald’s – which was surpassed in 2011 by the sandwich chain for most stores in America.
“Every day, millions of people eat at McDonald’s and Subway, the two largest fast food chains in the world,” Dr. Lenard Lesser, who led the research while a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Clinical Scholar in the department of family medicine at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health, said in the UCLA statement. “With childhood obesity at record levels, we need to know the health impact of kids’ choices at restaurants.”
Lesser – who is now a researcher at the Palo Alto Medical Foundation Research Institute – did so by recruiting 97 adolescents ages 12 to 21 to purchase meals at McDonald’s and Subway restaurants at a shopping mall in Carson, CA.
The young people consumed an average of 1,038 calories at McDonald’s.
They consumed an average of 955 calories at Subway – a statistically insignificant difference from McDonald’s.