December 5, 2007

Death on a Bun comes to Miracle Mile OR" We're All Getting Fat Anyway."

In case you hadn't heard, America is FAT. Not just a little overweight; we're officially OBESE. And we gain a little more weight every year.

We eat too much and exercise too little. Dieticians and endocrinologists keep calling for Americans to cut down on calories, to reduce the meal portions, and to avoid foods that have a high fat content.

Doctors cringe when national chains like McDonalds', Burger King, and Wendy's all claim that their patties of fat, salt and grease can be part of a well-balanced diet. And recent studies show that some people think that by going to "high end" restaurants for their burgers actually INCREASE their fat and calory intake. A Double Quarter Pounder with Cheese from McD's has 730 calories and 40 grams of fat. But a burger from Ruby Tuesday's, perceived to be "healthier," has 1,103 calories and a whopping 78 grams of fat! At a burger a week, that difference will bulk you up an additional 5 1/2 pounds!

And now, according the the Miami Herald, a burger joint is coming Miracle Mile that at least practices truth in advertising: that's right, FATBURGER is coming to Coral Gables. Heart attack on a bun, served up to order. MMMMM- mmmm. As you might guess from the title of this missive, I was going to dish on Fatburger. But as I researched the matter, I realized that while we don't really need another restaurant cramming calories down our greedy maws, at least they're being honest. They are serving up FAT, and you will get FAT. You know what you're getting into at the door.

Fat-laden burgers are not the whole story of obesity in America. Most of us consume a day's worth of calories from our snacks and beverages. That Grand Latte from Starbucks? 260 calories. A couple of sodas? That Big Gulp you grabbed for the rush hour commute? 550 calories. In fact, that Big Gulp has almost as many calories as a Big Mac (560, with 9 grams of fat and 1,010 grams of salt). Coincidentally, so does a Ceasar Salad from Panera Bread (560 calories, 9 grams of fat, 1,270 grams of salt)! The salad is worse for you than the hamburger!

I know what you're thinking; let's just slip around the corner to Publix and get a tuna salad sandwich. They only have....720 calories.....crap.

The real key is portion control. If we'd just eat reasonable portions, we wouldn't have the problems we do. But all these restaurants keep upping the size of the portions to make the meal "a better value." And we fall for it. "Hey, a SINGLE is a buck and a quarter, but a DOUBLE is only a buck seventy-five!" We USED to be fine on the smaller portions, but we feel compelled to take advantage of the fact that by buying larger portions, we're paying less per ounce.

Back when McDonald's opened, they served Hamburgers and Cheeseburgers. They're still on the menu. You'd get an "order" of fries (no size), and they still serve THAT portion as "small." And a Coke, which is also still on the menu as the small.

Here's how the meals* then and now stack up:


Item Calories Fat/grams Salt/mg
Hamburger 250 9 520
Fries 250 13 140
Coke (16oz) 150
TOTAL 650 22 670


Dbl Quarter Pounder w/Cheese 740 42 1380
Fries (large) 570 30 330
Coke (large) 310
TOTAL 1620 72 1730

As you can see, our parents and grandparents were consuming less than half the calories, less than a third of the fat, and under a third of the salt than we do today.

The FDA recommends that the average adult consume 2,000 calories a day, and 65 grams of fat. As you can see, if you get the "best value" lunch at McDonald's, you've nearly reached your daily caloric intake, and exceeded your fat intake. And that's just LUNCH.

So, does anyone still wonder why we're getting fatter? Anyone?

What, Fatburger? Their nutritional information is here. A Fatburger has 520 calories, 29 grams of fat, and 880 mg of sodium. A little better for you than a Quarter Pounder with Cheese, but not by much.

Not that it matters to me; they don't have a gluten-free menu, so I won't be dining there.

*Nutritional data from the McDonald's Website.

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