I'll tell you a secret a chef told me. That secret is...butter.

There is a reason restaurants that seek to charge the same for 'healthy' fare end up being big flops; people feel cheated eating bean sprouts they can make at their house.  No one cares about how much butter is in a dish when they go to a restaurant because it is a night out, a special occasion.  Calories are basically unimportant and taste remains supreme.  We want to eat something prepared by someone who only cares what we think about its flavor.

Obviously the human body was not designed to eat at a restaurant every evening.  If you do that, and you don't exercise, you are going to get fat. 

RAND Corporation, a non-partisan, non-profit (aren't they all?? - but RAND has a cool story, being co-founded by General Hap Arnold, the only 5-star General in the Air Force and one of only five men to wear 5 stars in the US Army at all) research group recently conducted an 18-month analysis of restaurant foods covering 30,923 menu choices (1,833 of them kid's menu items) from 245 restaurants.  What they found was that 96% of the main entrees sold at larger U.S. chains exceeded the daily limits for calories, sodium, fat and saturated fat recommended by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.  But these were all large, successful chains - they are in the business of cooking good food that people want to eat.

Yes, they have calories but they put nutritional information on the menus, people know what they are eating, so the only other choice is to simply make food no one wants to eat.  What restaurant chain is going to fall on the sword of healthy food and go out of business so that  people who want to eat too much good food can simply go somewhere else?

The counterintuitive results they also found; appetizers do more dieting damage than entrees and restaurant meals did more damage than fast food meals.  Yep, kooky progressives think banning Happy Meals is the answer, but really they should be banning the Rainforest Cafe.

If you care about your kids, take them to McDonald's rather than Whole Foods. Photo: Shutterstock

Want to read about something less depressing than blaming obesity on good food?  Read the very first RAND study produced - Preliminary Design of an Experimental World-Circling Spaceship. Awesome, right?

Citation: Helen Wu and Roland Sturm, 'What's on the menu? A review of the energy and nutritional content of US chain restaurant menus', Public Health Nutrition, FirstView Article : pp 1-10 doi:10.1017/S136898001200122X