Yesterday, first lady Michelle Obama announced that she would be teaming up with Subway to push for healthier eating habits for young children. "I’m excited about these initiatives not just as first lady, but also as a mom,” she said in a press release. Subway will now offer a kids’ menu, which will mirror federal standards for school lunches. However, is this even the right step into making kids' lunches healthier?
As a fast food tycoon, ranking number three in the world to other chain restaurants, according to Forbes magazine, Subway is a household name. Their “Eat Fresh” slogan has led many folks to believe that the array of sandwich choices are a better option than scarfing down a McDonald’s Happy Meal. “Subway's kids' menu makes life easier for parents because they know that no matter what their kids order, it’s going to be a healthy choice,” Obama said. However, some skeptics aren’t too sure about Subway’s health benefits.
Last year, researchers from UCLA found that many people consume as much overall calories, sugar, carbohydrates, and sodium as they would from eating any other fast food. Dr. Lenard Lesser, lead researcher of a study, found that 97 adolescent participants bought meals with 1,038 calories at McDonald's and an average of 955 calories at Subway. "We found that there was no statistically significant difference between the two restaurants, and that participants ate too many calories at both," Lesser said in a press release.
As it is now, Obama announced that Subway will work with the Partnership for a Healthier America and her nationwide campaign, “Let’s Move!,” to help end childhood obesity. Obama also said that she is aware that fast foods are an obvious alternative to low income households, “however, most of these foods are processed,” she said.
Popular food blogger, Vani Hair also known as the Food Babe, has her own gripes with Subway. “Three sandwiches on this menu, along with several other menu items not listed, are comprised of processed meats and filled with nitrates and forms of MSG. The consumption of nitrates need to be taken very seriously,” she wrote on her blog. The latest research from the World Cancer Research Fund declared that "processed meat is too dangerous for human consumption." However, Lesser also agreed that Subway sandwiches are slightly healthier for your health, but their sodium content is so high that it surpasses the National Institutes of Health recommendations, which is 1500 mg per day for adults; there is no recommended amount for infants, children, or adolescents.
If you take a look at the Subway menu, almost all of the foot-long sandwiches surpass the daily recommended amount of sodium. The black forest ham sandwich contains 1,600mg, the turkey breast sandwich contains 1,340 mg, and the buffalo chicken sandwich tips the scale at a whopping 2,200 mg.
There are still healthier choices to be made when picking out your next Subway sandwich, and instead of cutting out the fast food chain cold-turkey, go the veggie route. “If you go to Subway, opt for smaller subs, and ask for less meat and double the amount of veggies," Lesser said.