McDonalds vs Subway: Which is the healthier choice?

A new study comparing youthful eating patterns at A new study comparing youthful eating patterns at McDonald's and Subway found little difference in calories. Photo Credit: Ian J. Stark

advertisement | advertise on newsday

On any given day in the United States, millions of people eat at McDonalds or Subway.

And while those dining at Subway might think that they’re making the healthier choice for themselves and their kids, new research from the University of California, Los Angeles, published in the Journal of Adolescent Health says that this might not be the case.

Throughout the study led by Dr. Lenard Lesser, researchers found that most of the 97 adolescents participating (between the ages of 12 and 21) consumed just as many calories at Subway as they did at McDonalds.

“With childhood obesity at record levels, we need to know the health impact of kids' choices at restaurants," Lesser explained.

Using cash register receipts from participants and website listed calorie contents of meals ordered, researchers calculated the average meal ordered at McDonalds contained 1,038 calories while the average meal purchased at Subway contained 955.

“We found that there was no statistically significant difference between the two restaurants, and that participants ate too many calories at both,” Lesser said.

advertisement | advertise on newsday

Some of the more stand out figures from the study included sodium intake differences, side item caloric values and drink-based calories.

The report said:

-- Subway patrons consumed an average of 2,149 mg of sodium; McDonalds customers averaged 1,829 mg.

-- Purchasing side items like potato chips and French fries, there was an average of 35 calories per side item at Subway compared to 201 at McDonalds.

-- Sugary drinks accounted for 61 calories of participants' orders at Subway and 151 calories at McDonalds.


According to Lesser, although Subway’s nutrient profile was slightly healthier than those of its McDonalds counterpart, “the food still contained three times the amount of salt that the Institute of Medicine recommends.”

Researchers said the high sodium content is likely attributable to the use of processed meats, which have been shown to be associated with obesity and cardiovascular disease, as well as cancer.

In order to avoid consuming large calorie contents at these chains, Lesser recommends opting out of sugary drink choices, French fries and large sandwich sizes. Instead, he says, ask for smaller subs with less meat and more veggies.

What would you recommend to battle high calorie consumption? Let us know in the comments below.

You also may be interested in: