How’s this for lunch: Four McDonald’s Quarter Pounders with cheese and two medium orders of fries?
Most consumers couldn’t stomach that for just one meal. But the Center for Science in the Public Interest says they would be eating the caloric equivalent if they ordered Uno Pizzeria & Grill’s Whole Hog Burger.
It comes with more than a pound of meat (hamburger, sausage, bacon, prosciutto and pepperoni), four types of cheese, garlic mayonnaise and pickles, along with fries and onion rings — more than a day’s worth of calories (2,850), three days’ worth of saturated fat (62 grams), and six days’ worth of sodium (9,790 milligrams).
It’s just one of nine chain restaurant items making CSPI’s 2016 Xtreme Eating Awards.
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“Far from doing their part to reverse the obesity epidemic, America’s chain restaurants are pouring gasoline on the fire, crossing fried chicken and waffles with Eggs Benedict, merging cheeseburgers and egg rolls, and repurposing macaroni and cheese as a sandwich filling,” CSPI dietitian Lindsay Moyer said in a statement.
Other menu items on the Xtreme Eating 2016 list:
▪ Buffalo Wild Wings’ Dessert Nachos: A fried flour tortilla with four scoops of ice cream, sugar, and “gooey breaded cheesecake bites” topped with chocolate and caramel sauce (2,100 calories, 64 grams of saturated fat, and 5 grams of trans fat): “Nutritionally, that’s like eating four Taco Bell Crunchy Tacos (filled with beef and cheese) topped with a 14-ounce container of Häagen-Dazs Vanilla Ice Cream and two melted Hershey’s Milk Chocolate bars.”
▪ The Cheesecake Factory’s Fried Chicken & Waffles Benedict: A Belgian waffle topped with fried chicken strips, poached eggs, and Hollandaise sauce, served with maple-butter syrup and typically a side of breakfast potatoes. CSPI says it has more than a day’s worth of calories (2,580), four days’ worth of saturated fat (86 g), two days’ worth of sodium (3,390 mg) and a day’s worth (15 teaspoons) of sugar: “It’s like eating two Marie Callender’s one-pound Chicken Pot Pies topped with half a stick of butter and a quarter cup of maple syrup.”
The Cheesecake Factory has made the Xtreme Eating list every year since 2007.
▪ Dave & Buster’s Short Rib & Cheesy Mac Stack: A sandwich stuffed with beef short rib and macaroni and cheese and served with crispy seasoned tots — a day’s calories (1,910) and two days’ worth of saturated fat (42 g) and sodium (3,390 mg): “It’s like eating three McDonald’s Big Macs and a medium fries.”
▪ Sonic Drive-In’s RT 44 Grape Slush with Rainbow Candy: a 44-ounce Icy slush made with “sippable candy” this 44-ounce — 970 calories with 1¼ cups of sugar: “That’s like downing three XL (40-ounce) Fanta Wild Cherry Slurpees from 7-Eleven.”
Also on the Xtreme Eating 2016 list: Applebee’s Build Your Own Sampler (3,390 calories, 65 grams of saturated fat) and 11,650 milligrams of sodium), Jersey Mike’s Subs’ Chipotle Cheese Steak (1,850 calories, 30 grams of saturated fat and 4,330 milligrams of sodium), Maggiano’s Little Italy’s Marco’s Meal for Two, and Romano’s Macaroni Grill’s Cremini Pork Shank (1,800 calories, 43 grams of saturated fat and 3,700 milligrams of sodium).
If consumers visit some of the restaurants on the list, CSPI offers this advice: The Cheesecake Factory’s “SkinnyLicious” menu, Dave & Buster’s “600 or under” dishes, and Applebee’s “Lighter Fare.” However, many of Maggiano’s Little Italy’s “Lighter Take” dishes are in the 800- to-1,000-calorie range, according to the CSPI.
CSPI said calorie counts will become mandatory on menus and menu boards at chain restaurants with 20 or more outlets starting in May, with other nutrition information available upon request. The Food and Drug Administration will implement the regulation, which was included as part of the Affordable Care Act in 2010 and CSPI started the push for menu labeling at restaurants in 2003.