The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), a nonprofit group that focuses on nutritional education and awareness, compiles an annual list to alert consumers to menu items with absurdly high levels of calories, saturated fat, sugar and sodium.
According to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, more than one-third of Americans are obese, and about 10 percent of the nation’s healthcare bill is tied to obesity-related diseases, such as Type 2 diabetes, heart disease and hypertension.
CSPI uses the “awards” to educate consumers and inspire support for calorie disclosure on restaurant menus. Calorie counts will soon be required on chain restaurant menus, though final regulations have been stalled for months, according to CSPI.
CSPI advises that America’s restaurant chains are serving some extremely unhealthy meals, and has unveiled the latest “winners” of its Xtreme Eating Awards in the current issue of Nutrition Action Healthletter.
“It’s as if IHOP, The Cheesecake Factory, Maggiano’s Little Italy, and other major restaurant chains are scientifically engineering these extreme meals with the express purpose of promoting obesity, diabetes, and heart disease,” said CSPI executive director Michael F. Jacobson.
“You’d think that the size of their profits depended on their increasing the size of your pants.”
A typical adult should consume about 2,000 calories and no more than 20 grams of saturated fat and 1,500 milligrams of sodium per day.
The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends consuming no more than six teaspoons of added sugars for women and nine teaspoons for men.
The Xtreme Eating dis-honorees include:
IHOP serves a breakfast consisting of deep-fried steak with gravy, two fried eggs, deep-fried potatoes, and two buttermilk pancakes.
The Country Fried Steak & Eggs combo has 1,760 calories, 23 grams of saturated fat, 3,720 mg of sodium, and 11 teaspoons of added sugar. CSPI says that’s like having five McDonald’s Egg McMuffins sprinkled with 10 packets of sugar.
Johnny Rockets’ Bacon Cheddar Double burger has 1,770 calories, 50 grams of saturated fat, and 2,380 milligrams of sodium. An order of the chain’s Sweet Potato Fries adds another 590 calories and 800 mg of sodium.
The chain’s Big Apple Shake—a milkshake that actually contains a slice of apple pie—has 1,140 calories, 37 grams of saturated fat, and about 13 teaspoons of added sugar. That meal delivers a total of 3,500 calories (nearly two days’ worth), 88 grams of saturated fat (four-and-a-half days’ worth) and 3,720 mg of sodium (two-and-a-half days’ worth.
It’s like eating 3 McDonald’s Quarter Pounders with Cheese, a large Fries, a medium McCafé Vanilla Shake, and 2 Baked Apple Pies.
The Deep Dish Macaroni & 3-Cheese at Uno Chicago Grill has four cups of pasta; Cheddar, Parmesan, and Romano cheeses; an Alfredo sauce made from heavy cream, cheese, rendered chicken fat, and butter; and a crushed Ritz Cracker topping.
With a day’s worth of calories (1,980), three-and-a-half days’ worth of saturated fat (71 grams), and two days’ worth of sodium (3,110 mg), eating this entrée is like eating a whole Family Size box of Stouffer’s Macaroni & Cheese—with half a stick of butter melted on top.
One might think that the Bistro Shrimp Pasta from The Cheesecake Factory is one of the less fattening things on the menu, what with its shrimp, mushrooms, tomato, and arugula.
It actually has more calories than any other entrée (at 3,120), along with 89 grams of saturated fat (enough to keep your arteries busy from Monday morning to noon on Friday, says CSPI). It’s the nutritional equivalent of three orders of Olive Garden’s Lasagna Classico plus an order of Tiramisu.
The full list of winners is available here.