Frozen meals closer to meeting Dietary Guidelines than quick service restaurant meals

New analysis of data from the 2003-2010 What We Eat In America (WWEIA) National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), a program of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), indicates that consumers of frozen meals (1) compared to consumers of quick service restaurant (QSR) meals (2) had lower calorie intakes and better Healthy Eating Index (HEI) score. In fact, the analysis revealed that those who consumed frozen meals consumed 253 fewer calories than those who consumed a quick service restaurant meal.

These results were presented at a scientific poster session at the Experimental Biology Conference (EB) April 26-30, 2014.

"The analysis shows consumers of frozen meals come a little closer to meeting Dietary Guidelines for Americans than consumers of quick service restaurant meals, and they do it with 253 fewer calories a day," said Dr. Victor L. Fulgoni, co-author of the analysis and vice president of Nutrition Impact, LLC.

Specifically, the analysis revealed that those who consumed frozen meals, when compared to those who consumed QSR meals, had significantly:

  • lower calorie intake (2073-51 kcal/d frozen meal consumers vs 2326-20 QSR consumers)
  • higher total Healthy Eating Index (HEI) score (53.0-1.5 frozen meal consumers vs 44.4-0.4 QSR consumers)
  • higher intakes of total vegetables (3.4-0.1 frozen meal consumers vs 2.9-0.03 QSR consumers)
  • higher intakes of greens and beans (1.7-0.2 frozen meal consumers vs 0.9-0.04 QSR consumers)
  • higher intakes of whole grains (2.9-0.3 frozen meal consumers vs 1.8-0.1 QSR consumers)
  • higher intakes of total protein foods (4.4-0.1 frozen meal consumers vs 4.1-0.03 QSR consumers)
  • lower intakes of refined grains (6.6-0.4 frozen meal consumers vs 5.4-0.1 QSR consumers)
  • lower intakes of empty calories (13.1-0.5 frozen meal consumers vs 9.9-0.2 QSR consumers)

The Healthy Eating Index (HEI) is a benchmark to evaluate the quality of calories consumed, and is recognized as a measure of diet quality in terms of conformance to Federal dietary guidance. It is used to monitor the quality of American diets; to examine relationships between diet and health-related outcomes and between diet cost and diet quality; to determine the effectiveness of nutrition intervention programs; and to assess the quality of food assistance packages, menus, and the U.S. food supply. More information about HEI is available at

As the world's leading nutrition, health and wellness company, Nestl- is committed to working with nutrition, health and wellness professionals to help consumers enjoy meals they love while also meeting US Dietary Guidelines. Balance Your Plate with Nestl- is an educational program that highlights the important role frozen prepared foods can play in helping Americans meet US Dietary Guidelines and MyPlate recommendations for healthy eating patterns. Frozen, ready-made entr-es are a source of pride for Nestl-. They are freshly made and simply frozen. Nestl- cooks prepare a wide variety of frozen dishes with care, making key ingredients - like pasta for our iconic lasagna or macaroni and cheese - from scratch. Then the food is frozen to help lock in nutrients and provide convenience for easy enjoyment at home or at work. The company also works continually to improve the nutritional profiles of its products by featuring positive nutrients such as whole grains, calcium, Omega-3s and antioxidants and by reducing nutrients like fat and sodium.

The study was supported by Nestl- USA. For more information and links to the Experimental Biology scientific abstracts please visit

About Experimental Biology

Experimental Biology (EB) is an annual conference organized by six scientific societies. This meeting brings together the leading researchers from dozens of life-science disciplines. The societies represented at the meeting will be: the American Association of Anatomists (AAA), the American Physiological Society (APS), the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (ASBMB), the American Society for Investigative Pathology (ASIP), the American Society for Nutrition (ASN) and the American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics (ASPET).

(1) Defined consumption of any of 91 specific frozen meals

(2) Defined as obtaining meals from "restaurant fast food/pizza"



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