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A person’s local diner or family-run restaurant was just as likely to pile on the calories as a big chain. In fact, local, small-chain restaurants tended to have slightly higher calorie counts per meal (an average of 1,437) than national chains (1,359), although the difference wasn’t statistically significant.

Many of these [local] restaurants make fast food look healthy. However, without the aid of calorie counts on menus, figuring out which meal is better for you can be tough. They found the average breakfast, lunch and dinner contained 1,128 calories, again a majority of the daily number of calories recommended for adults.

In addition, the meals typically contained 151 percent of the daily amount of salt a person should ingest daily, 89 percent of the fat recommended per day, 83 percent of daily recommended saturated and trans fats, and 60 percent of the cholesterol one should have daily.

One expert agreed that restaurant meals often include unexpected amounts of calories, salt and fat.

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