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Calorie Counts Often Too Low on Fast Foods and Frozen Dinners

Mistakes can mean an extra 10 to 20 pounds of weight, especially for those age 50 and older

En español | If you're counting your calories, don't rely too heavily on those calorie numbers on your favorite packaged food or restaurant website. Those numbers can be off, even way off, a recent Tufts University study found. That's troubling news, considering that next year new health regulations will require that a wide range of restaurants and businesses post the calorie counts of the foods they sell.

While the fast-food restaurant dishes were off by an average of 18 percent and the packaged foods by an average of 8 percent — calories for some, including diet foods, were underreported by 21, 28, even 200 percent, the study found.

But before you get mad at the companies, consider this: According to the government, even a 20 percent margin of error is acceptable under current nutrition labeling guidelines. That means a 200-calorie frozen diet dinner, for example, could really be 240 calories — not a huge difference, but definitely something that could sabotage your attempts to lose weight or even maintain it if you're eating a frozen entree several times a week. … Back to Article

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