Cross-sectional Analysis of Calories and Nutrients of Concern in Canadian Chain Restaurant Menu Items in 2016

Sarah Murphy, Madyson Weippert, Kacie Dickinson, Mary Scorbourtakos, Mary L'Abbe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


The nutritional quality of restaurant foods in Canada is not monitored by government and limited research has evaluated the nutrient content of these foods. Given the increasing proportion of foods consumed outside the home, this study aims to assess levels of nutrients of public health concern in Canadian fast-food and sit-down restaurant menu items.

Levels of calories, saturated fat, sodium, and sugar of 10,285 menu items from 90 national chain restaurants in Canada were assessed. Data were collected in 2016, extracted and analyzed between 2018 and 2020, and presented overall and by category. Levels in fast-food and sit-down restaurant establishments were compared.

Overall mean levels of saturated fat, sodium, and sugar were high. Entrées contained on average 52% of the total daily value for sodium (1,256 mg/serving) and 45% of the daily value for saturated fat (8.9 g/serving). Beverages and desserts had high levels of total sugar (mean=44 g and 32 g/serving, respectively) but tended to be low in sodium. Sit-down restaurant items had significantly (p≤0.0001) higher levels of calories, saturated fat, and sodium overall, although fast-food restaurant items had higher average sugar levels because of the higher number of beverage and dessert items.

Levels of nutrients of concern in Canadian menu items are excessive among most food categories. As the frequency of eating out in restaurants rises, government policies to promote reformulation and increase transparency of the nutritional content of these items are required to reduce their negative impact on public health.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e149-e159
Number of pages11
Issue number4
Early online date20 Aug 2020
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2020


  • cross-sectional analysis
  • restaurant foods
  • Nutritional quality
  • Canadian Chain Restaurant menu items
  • 2016


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