- The Center for Science in the Public Interest released its 2019 Xtreme Eating Awards, a roundup of the most unhealthy menu items across major US restaurants.
- CSPI began compiling the list in 2007 as part of a larger effort to educate American consumers and help them make healthier food choices.
- We took a closer look at the items on this year’s list, which individually boast between 1,500 and 2,300 calories — and at least a day’s worth of sugar, salt, or saturated fat.
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Though many US restaurant chains are making concerted efforts to integrate healthier meal and ingredient options, there are still some especially calorie-packing items lurking on their menus.
The Center for Science in the Public Interest recently released its 2019 Xtreme Eating Awards, an annual roundup of unhealthy menu items. The consumer advocacy group, which has an "ambitious agenda for improving the food system to support healthy eating," has compiled the list since 2007 as part of a larger effort to help Americans make healthier food choices.
Lists such as these are part of a growing movement to reduce American obesity rates, which are as high as 2 out of 3 adults, and 1 out of 3 children, according to the CSPI.
Each entry on the CSPI list individually boasts between 1,500 and 2,300 calories — and at least a day’s worth of sugar, salt, or saturated fat. According to the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, the average person’s daily diet should include no more than 2,100 calories, 14 grams of saturated fat, 2,300 milligrams of sodium, and 90 grams of sugar.
"Pancakes with syrup or cheeseburgers are never a health food, but it seems like the Cheesecake Factory, Chili’s, and other chains are trying to outdo each other to make them worse," CSPI senior nutritionist Lindsay Moyer wrote in an article on the organization’s website.
As the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states: "Weight management is all about balancing the number of calories you take in with the number your body uses or burns off." With that in mind, here’s a closer look at the food items that made this year’s ranking, along with their calorie counts and levels of sugars and fats.
Sonic — Oreo Peanut Butter Master Shake (large)
Fast food drive-in chain Sonic offers the only liquid entry on this list. According to its website, the Master Shake contains "Real Ice Cream," peanut butter and Oreos, and is "finished with whipped topping and a cherry."
Saturated Fat: 48 g
Added Sugar: 62 g (estimate)
Cracker Barrel — The Country Boy Breakfast
Cracker Barrel prides itself on its Southern country theme.
According to its website, the chain’s Country Boy Breakfast "comes with all the fixin’s," which includes three eggs, fried apples, hash browns, grits, two pork chops, Sawmill gravy, buttermilk biscuits, real butter, and jam.
Saturated Fat: 25 g
Sodium: 4,730 mg
Maggiano’s Little Italy — Braised Beef al Forno
Maggiano’s Little Italy first opened its doors in Chicago in 1991.
This particular dish is made up of orecchiette pasta, beef, peppers, spinach, and well over a day’s worth of sodium. On top of that, customers who order this dish get an extra plate of pasta to take home for tomorrow’s leftovers (not included in nutrition facts).
Saturated Fat: 41 g
Sodium: 2,990 mg
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