Startling new facts about what Australians are eating for lunch

Most popular takeaway blows daily saturated fat intake

A new ACNeilsen Omnibus poll of 1400 Australians reveals that almost two thirds of us are regularly choosing takeaways, with hot chips, hamburgers and meat pies the most popular menu items.

As part of the inaugural Australian Lunch Week, Sanitarium Nutrition Service dietitians have analysed a range of common lunch options found in food courts around the nation. Most of us will be stunned at the high amount of fat, salt and sugar in many dishes and drinks even those we think of as relatively healthy!

What We're Really Eating!

  • A serve of hot chips (~300g) provides 45% of your recommended daily energy intake, 75% of your daily fat intake and your entire daily intake of saturated fat (24g). It also provides one third of your daily carbohydrate needs and almost a quarter (23%) of your daily sodium intake.
  • A medium Big Mac Meal including Big Mac, Fries and Coke, contributes 45% of your average daily energy intake, 62% of your daily total fat intake, 53% of your recommended saturated fat intake, 45% of daily sugars and 42% of recommended sodium intakes.
  • A meat pie provides 18% of your daily intake of energy, 29% of your total fat intake, 41% of your daily saturated fat intake and 20% of your daily intake of sodium/salt.
  • A toasted cheese, tomato and ham sandwich can provide over half (55%) of your recommended daily sodium/salt intake and a McDonald's Deli Choice Roast Beef & BBQ Sauce Roll provides 61% of your recommended intake.
  • A Subway Chicken Fillet 6-Inch Sub contains about the same amount of fat as a regular meat pie (20g versus 20.5g).
  • A Chicken Caesar Salad contains just over half the amount of energy from a KFC Two-Piece Feed (2149kJ or 25% of your daily energy intake), more fat than both a sausage roll or meat pie (over half your daily recommended intake of fat 51%) and 41% of your daily sodium/salt intake.

What You Need To Do To Work This Off!

  • An 80kg man would have to cycle, at a moderate pace (9.4kph), for approximately two hours to expend the same amount of energy as found in a medium Big Mac Meal from McDonald's.
  • A 65kg woman would have to spend just over 3 hours walking to expend the same amount of energy in a 300g serve of hot chips.
  • A 74kg man would need to mow a lawn for an hour and a half to expend the equivalent energy to a Chicken, Cheese and Avocado Toasted Foccacia.

Healthier Convenient Lunch Options

  • Sanitarium Lunch Today Mediterranean Pasta provides 11% daily energy, 8% daily fat, 2.5% saturated fat and 20% of daily sodium intake. It also contains two serves of vegetables and is low GI.
  • Other healthier convenient lunch options (from those analysed) include McDonald's Garden Salad, Subway Veggie Delight 6-Inch Sub, Sushi Rolls (watch the salt), and Low-Fat Cup-a-Soup with wholemeal toast.
  • A cheese and salad sandwich or baked beans on toast are also good choices provided wholegrain bread and low-fat cheese are used.

Tips for Choosing a Nutritious Lunch

According to Sanitarium Dietitian, Cathy McDonald, a healthy tasty lunch will be based on wholegrain carbohydrates, protein (we recommend plant proteins, such as legumes and nuts), a variety of vegetables and some fruit and water or low-fat milk/soymilk.

"Meals based on these foods are nutritious, taste good and boost our sense of wellbeing. Other tips to keep in mind include:

  1. Try and choose foods that aren't deep fried or contain pastry as these often contain high amounts of saturated fat.
  2. Portion size is important eating large amounts can lead to excess energy/kilojoule intake, making it difficult to maintain a healthy weight.
  3. Sauces and dressings can also add unwanted energy, fat and salt, so go easy on these and where possible ask for them on the side so you can add your own if you want," she says.


Note to editors:
Reference values for Percentage Daily Intake information were taken from the Food Standards Code (Standard 1.2.8m Table to subclause 7).

Energy expenditure for certain activities taken from G M Wardlaw and P M Insel, Perspectives in Nutrition, Times Mirror Publishing USA, 1990.

Released on behalf of Australian Lunch Week by Crossman Communications. For more information please contact Jackie Crossman or Amanda Newsom on 02 9363 0288.

About Sanitarium
Sanitarium's enduring mission is to inspire and resource the community to experience happy, healthy lives. Commencing operations in Melbourne in 1898, Sanitarium remains proudly 100% Australian owned. Sanitarium is one of Australia's most trusted brands and has a reputation for producing quality, healthy foods. Weet-Bix is Australia's No. 1 selling breakfast cereal and So Good is the leader in the soymilk category.

Sanitarium's Nutrition Service is a free advisory service for consumers and health professionals. Highly trained nutritionists and dietitians provide friendly, helpful unbiased advice and easy to follow recipes to help people make healthy food choices.

Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 30 Apr 2016
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