Fast food facts on your cell phone

Fast food facts on your cell phone


Specialist University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer & Environmental

URBANA — The next time you visit a fast food restaurant, bring your Internet-ready cell phone with you because researchers at the University of Illinois have developed a wireless tool that calculates the number of calories and the amount of fat in the meal you’re about to order.

“When people want nutritional information, 99 percent of the time, they want to know the calories and fat content,” said Jim Painter, professor of nutritional sciences at the University of Illinois in the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences. “So, we started this wireless version of the nutrition tool by offering just the fat and calorie content for the top 10 nationwide fast food chains.”

The address for the site is Once at the site, it’s possible to choose a specific restaurant and create a meal by selecting items from a list of categories: entrée, side dish, salad, beverage or dessert. “You choose items to make up a meal and the total fat and calorie content will be calculated for you. If the totals are higher or lower than you expected, you can go back to a category, select a different item, then have your meal recalculated,” Painter said.

“Once we get this accessible on handheld devices like Palm Pilots,” said Painter, “I’d like to add an energy calculator, too, so that people can use it while they’re out jogging. They can jog for 30 minutes then check how many calories they’ve burned so far, then decide to jog further or switch to a different activity.” Painter said that he also plans to add family-style restaurant chains to the listing of fast food chains.

Note: The wireless Web address will only work on a cell phone, not on a personal computer. “Any cell phone that is ‘wireless web-ready’ can access the site,” said John Schmitz, one of the co-creators of the Web site. “These phones have what’s called a ‘micro-browser’, basically a very small version of Netscape or Explorer. Soon we will also develop the capability to reach wireless personal digital assistant devices like Palm Pilots and Pocket PCs.”

The wireless calorie and fat calculator component is an extension of the Nutritional Analysis Tool. To access, visit and choose NAT Tool Version 2.0. At this site, the information is not listed by restaurant. Visitors type in the kind of food they want information about, like “hamburger,” and will get a listing of items to choose from.

Source: Jim Painter, (217) 333-8805; John Schmitz, (217) 244-2291; Contact: Debra Levey Larson, Media/Communications Specialist University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer & Environmental Sciences, 65 Mumford Hall, MC-710, 1301 W. Gregory Dr., Urbana, IL 61801; 217-244-2880; Fax: 217-333-2614; E-mail:

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