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Quick Study: You Can Lead a Teen to Healthy Food, But...

Just because Subway offers healthier options than some of the other popular fast-food restaurants doesn't mean people take advantage of them.
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A Subway restaurant in Pittsfield Township, Michigan. (PHOTO: <a href=

A Subway restaurant in Pittsfield Township, Michigan. (PHOTO:

With its uncooked vegetables and unfried meats, Subway looks like a relatively healthy fast-food option—at least compared to burger joints. But it may not be.

Researchers at the University of California-Los Angeles tracked the choices of 97 adolescents in a working-class neighborhood who went to both restaurants on different afternoons. The kids (over)ate almost the same number of calories at each—an average of 1,038 at McDonald's versus 955 at Subway. (The Institute of Medicine recommends no more than 850 calories for an average teen's lunch.)

True, the Subway meals included more protein and vegetables, and less sugar and carbs than Mickey D's offerings. But Subway's were also higher in sodium and essentially the same in fat and saturated fat.

Writing in the Journal of Adolescent Health, the researchers suggest that Subway's marketing gimmicks, such as combo meals and foot-long sandwich promotions, "may counteract the healthy offerings" the chain provides.

Somewhere, Ronald McDonald is laughing.