Watchdog Group Singles Out Most Unhealthful Restaurant Foods

In a list of the most over-the-top, unhealthy restaurant foods, the Center for Science in the Public Interest singled out some dishes that provide more saturated fat or sodium than most people should eat in three days. The foods were also high in calories.

The group’s Xtreme Eating 2009 dishes, listed in the June issue of its Nutrition Action Healthletter, include:
•    Chili’s Big Mouth Bites with French fries (four mini bacon cheeseburgers with fried onion strings): 2,350 calories, 38 grams saturated fat, 3,940 milligrams sodium.
•    Olive Garden Tour of Italy, with lasagna, chicken parmigiana and fettuccine Alfred: 1,450 calories, 33 grams saturated fat, 3,830 milligrams sodium.
•    The Cheesecake Factory Fried Macaroni and Cheese: 1,570 calories, 69 grams saturated fat, 1,860 milligrams sodium.
•    Chili’s Original Half Rack of Baby Back Ribs: An add-on for entrees, with 490 calories, 12 grams saturated fat, and 2,050 milligrams sodium.
•    Red Lobster Ultimate Fondue shrimp and crabmeat in a lobster cheese sauce served in a sourdough bread bowl: 1,490 calories, 40 grams saturated fat, 3,580 milligrams sodium.
•    Uno Chicago Grill’s Mega-Sized Deep Dish Sundae: 2,800 calories, 72 grams saturated fat.
•    The Cheesecake Factory’s Chicken and Biscuits: 2,500 calories.
•    Applebee’s Quesadilla Burger with fries: 1,820 calories, 46 grams saturated fat, 4,410 milligrams sodium.
•    The Cheesecake Factory Philly Style Flat Iron Steak with fries: 2,320 calories, 47 grams saturated fat, 5,340 milligrams sodium.

U.S. dietary guidelines call for healthy Americans to get less than 2,300 milligrams of sodium a day, about the amount in a teaspoon of table salt. Those who are middle-aged or older, African-American, or have high blood pressure are advised to consume no more than 1,500 milligrams a day.
 
Federal nutrition guidelines also advise that less than 10% of daily calories come from saturated fat, about 20 grams for a 2,000-calorie diet.

The Center for Science in the Public Interest obtained the nutritional information in the report from restaurant Web sites and menus.

 “As a consumer-driven industry, we give our guests what they want,” said Shelia Weiss, RD, a nutrition consultant for the National Restaurant Association, in a WebMd article on the CSPI’s list. “Certainly there are indulgent items on menus, but there are more diet-conscious items on menus than ever before.” Weiss also disputed CSPI’s assertion that restaurants are bulking op on portions and indulgence items to lure diners in during the recession.

The CSPI is backing a federal menu labeling bill that would require calorie counts to be listed on the menus and menu boards of chain restaurants. The National Restaurant Association is supporting a measure that would allow nutritional information to be listed in other locations -- such as a brochure or poster -- when a customer orders.

Members help make our journalism possible. Become a Restaurant Business member today and unlock exclusive benefits, including unlimited access to all of our content. Sign up here.

Multimedia

Exclusive Content

Marketing

Older brands try new tricks in their quest to stay relevant

Reality Check: A number of mature restaurant chains are out to prove that age is just a number.

Financing

At Papa Johns, delivery shifts from its own apps to aggregators

The Bottom Line: The pizza delivery chain’s business with companies like Uber Eats and DoorDash is thriving while its own delivery is slowing. But this isn’t the beginning of the end of self-delivery, CEO Rob Lynch says.

Topics

How the shift to counter service has changed Steak n Shake's profitability

The Bottom Line: Sardar Biglari, chairman of the chain’s owner Biglari Holdings, details how the addition of kiosks and counter service has transformed restaurants.

Trending

More from our partners