Fast Food Can Fit into a Low-Fat Diet, Medical Journal Reports

By Price, Joyce | The Washington Times (Washington, DC), February 12, 1996 | Go to article overview

Fast Food Can Fit into a Low-Fat Diet, Medical Journal Reports


Price, Joyce, The Washington Times (Washington, DC)


Good news for fast-food addicts. Hamburgers fries, and shakes can be part of a low-fat diet.

That was the finding of a new study published in the American Medical Association's Archives of Internal Medicine.

Dr. Michael H. Davidson, medical director of the Chicago Center for Clinical Research, who was the study's author and principal investigator, said some doctors have long held that fast-food restaurants should be avoided by patients with high cholesterol because they would not fit into a diet designed to reduce blood fats. But he said his research proves that assumption is wrong.

The study showed it's "possible for the one-third of the U.S. population who eat at quick-service restaurants daily to balance the intake of dietary fat in the remaining meals of the day to adhere to the goals" of a low-fat diet recommended by the National Cholesterol Education Program (NCEP) for patients with higher-than-normal cholesterol levels, Dr. Davidson said in a telephone interview.

But Bonnie Liebman, director of nutrition for the Center for Science in the Public Interest, blasted the research, which was funded by McDonald's Corp. "There's no new science here, and it's not good public health advice. It's really just PR that's done to shore up the reputation of the industry that's footing the bill."

Dr. Davidson strongly denied her charges. He said McDonald's was "not involved" in the design of the study or the data analysis. He also said an independent investigator was brought in "to oversee the conduct of the study."

"We did everything we know could be done to make sure the results were unbiased," he said.

During their eight-week study, Dr. Davidson and his research colleagues compared two groups of adults, all of whom were used to high-fat diets, had high cholesterol and had not previously undergone diet counseling.

For the study, one group of about 50 subjects consumed a "traditional" 1,800-calorie-a-day NCEP diet. The other group incorporated fast-food meals five times a week into their 1,800-calorie-a-day NCEP diet.

The meal plan of the second group included choices from McDonald's menu, such as a cheeseburger and small fries; a six-piece box of Chicken McNuggets with barbecue sauce and a vanilla shake; a Big Mac, Filet-o-Fish or Quarter Pounder with a garden salad and "lite vinaigrette" dressing; and a Chunky Chicken Salad with vinaigrette dressing and a vanilla shake. …

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