With 31,000 restaurants worldwide, you can’t escape those golden arches, and that’s just one of the several fast food chains that lure you in to guzzle their grease. How can you avoid craving a McWhopper when there’s one on every block? Next time you’re waiting impatiently at the drive through or the counter, keep these jaw-dropping facts in mind:
According to Eric Schlosser, author of Fast Food Nation, "Americans now spend more money on fast food than on higher education, personal computers, computer software or new cars. They spend more on fast food than on movies, books, magazines, newspapers, videos and recorded music—"combined."
We all know that fast food isn't healthy, but that doesn't seem to stop us. The next time you're speaking to the sign at the drive-through window or waiting your turn in line at the counter, keep these surprising facts in mind:
- A Hardees Monster Burger weighs in at 1,060 calories, more than half of an average woman's daily calorie needs!
- Think you're keeping it light by eating a Taco Bell taco salad? Think again! It contains 850 calories, enough for two meals. I have to give it credit, though—along with the 52 grams of fat (more than you need in an entire day) it does have a beneficial 16 grams of fiber. Of course, you could simply eat a high fiber breakfast cereal and save yourself approximately 600 calories.
- Are french fries your downfall? The best bet is the small fries from White Castle. With only 115 calories and 6 grams of fat, they're actually not a bad choice. As you can imagine, the more fries you order, the more calories and fat you get. At McDonald's, the small fries have 210 calories and 10 grams of fat. Add 240 calories if you eat the medium size (450 calories total), 320 additional calories for the large (530 calories total), and the super-size weighs in at an astounding 610 calories and 29 grams of fat! Believe it or not, a Chicken McGrill (hold the mayo and you have 340 calories) has fewer calories than the medium fries, a Quarter Pounder with Cheese (530 calories) has about the same amount of calories as the large fries, and the only sandwiches with more calories than the super-size fries are the Big X-tra (710 calories) and Big X-tra with Cheese (810 calories)!
- The skinless chicken you roast at home may be healthy, but chicken nuggets have more fat per ounce than hamburgers! The same goes for fish sandwiches. Here are the numbers:
- A 6-piece Chicken McNuggets has 290 calories and 17 grams of fat, a Filet-O-Fish sandwich has 470 calories and 26 grams fat, and a hamburger has 270 calories and 9 grams fat.
- Don't drown your sorrows in the milkshakes. Burger King's shakes contain 66 grams of sugar—that's 16 teaspoons! The 430 calories aren't too shabby either.
- Beware of large portions. They entice us with special pricing, but what we're really doing is contributing to the financial bottom line and our own derrieres. Supersizing gives the companies additional profits while we pack on the calories and fat. Do we really need a triple cheeseburger and super-size fries? Take a look at Burger King burgers:
- Hamburger, 320 calories and 15 grams fat
- Whopper Junior, 400 calories and 24 grams fat
- Whopper, 660 calories and 40 grams fat
- Double Whopper, 920 calories and 59 grams fat
What about our kids?
How many times do you purchase fast food for your child? Hold birthday parties in the fast food playlands? My boys used to play with the toys and not eat the food (I think they're smarter than I give them credit). Fast food companies are no dummies. By marketing heavily to children, they develop loyal, life-long customers who've developed a taste for high-fat fries and burgers early on. But think about this: The rate of childhood obesity has more than doubled in the past 20 years, at the same time that eating fast food has become a way of life. Granted, there are many reasons for the appalling rate of weight gain in the United States, but eating fast food is most likely a factor.
The bottom line
Make a resolution right now to drastically decrease your fast food consumption. Then make another vow to never supersize, and to always order the smallest items on the menu the few times you succumb to fast food. We really can have it our way!