Fast Food: The High Price of Value Meals
By Nancy Clark, MS, RD
Someone once joked that building lots of fast food joints in “enemy territories” would eradicate the need for atomic bombs: the obese population would soon self-destruct.
Unfortunately, Americans have become our own worst enemy and obesity has reached epidemic proportions.
More than 60% of American adults are super-sized as are 14% of American teens and 13% of 6- to 11-year olds.
Obesity is a complex condition associated with over-eating, under-exercising, stress, fatigue and a sedentary lifestyle.
Some say obesity stems from ignorance.
Others would like to hold the fast-food industry accountable for their own expanding waistlines.
While the verdict is unclear as to whether the food industry can be held accountable for America's problem with obesity, this argument does raise consciousness about the industry.
Between value meals and super-size portions, it’s easy to think “I only ate one serving....”
One Cinnabon, mind you, is more than enough for two people.
While I do believe that all foods (even fast foods, in moderation) can be balanced into a healthful diet, I also recognize the food industry getting us to consume more and more.
Anybody out there old enough to remember that Coke once came in 8-ounce bottle?
The purpose of this article is to help you grasp the importance of appropriate portions.
At Burger King (and most other fast food restaurants), you can “Size it your way”; that is, you can have a medium, large or king-sized value meal with incremental increases in the fries and soft drink.
By ordering the value meal, as opposed to ordering each item separately, you’ll save 78¢ per increment (medium to large; large to king-size). And for those 78¢ you can get about 200 to 250 more calories.
The king-size Whopper with Cheese value meal offers a total of 1,825 calories from the burger, fries and soft drink.
This equates to:
1) a whole large cheese pizza (that would more likely feed the whole family, not one person) or
2) the whole day’s worth of calories for the average woman.
If you are looking for the whole day’s calories in one dose, as well as the whole week’s fat intake, this king-sized meal is a bargain.
Unfortunately, most people eat two other meals in a day.
Say hello to FAT.
If you like fast food, you have to decide for yourself if a value meal is truly a good deal–-and if it is really the best way to spend your calories.
Almost half of those calories come from fat, cloggage and the stuff that makes heart attacks.
The best VALUE at a fast food restaurant is to NOT get the value meal, but rather just get one item.
The Whopper with Cheese (no fries or soda, thank you) is 800 calories. This is more than enough for most hungry people.
Even students, who commonly ponder how to get the most calories for the least amount of money, should skip the fries and soda.
For children, Burger King’s “Big Kid Meal” is also a bad deal. For $4.39, a child can get a double cheeseburger, small fries and a small soda.
This comes to just under 1,000 calories--the equivalent of two hefty peanut butter and jelly sandwiches or half a large cheese pizza.
That’s probably why it's called the “BIG Kid’s Meal.”
Equally worrisome, kids who eat the whole meal get stuffed.
Each time a child overeats, he or she chips away at the body’s natural ability to regulate an appropriate intake.
The desire for big food grows, along with the waistline.
Maybe it's time to move back in time to "slow foods"; you know, the homemade meals that nourished the body, fed the soul and were one of life's pleasures?
Calorie information is available at most websites of the larger restaurant chains. For example, you might want to visit:
Nancy Clark, MS, RD
Phone: (617) 795-1875 Fax: (617) 795-1876
"Helping active people win with good nutrition."
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