Many of America’s biggest foodservice chains are still routinely selling obscenely caloric products that are laden with calories and swimming in saturated fat, sodium and sugar, according to the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI).
In its Xtreme Eating awards, its annual nutritional hall of shame, the health advocacy group singles out products from The Cheesecake Factory, Chili’s, Smoothie King and other high-profile names as examples of caloric excess.
While the CSPI acknowledges that most major chains now highlight lighter options on menus, diners still have to exercise tremendous discipline to avoid exceeding daily recommendations on calories, fat, sugar and sodium for an entire day in a single sitting, or even single serving, said the report.
Products singled out by the CSPI include:
Maggiano’s 18oz Little Italy Veal Porthouse (Veal Porterhouse with butter sauce and red potatoes).
- Calories: 1,900 (without potatoes), 2,710 (with potatoes)
- Saturated fat: 40g (without potatoes), 45g (with potatoes)
- Sodium: 2,860mg (without potatoes), 3,700mg (with potatoes)
The numbers don’t include the Ciabatta Roll that also comes with the meal.
The King, Smoothie King Peanut Power Plus Grape Smoothie, 40oz (A blend of peanut butter and banana with grape juice).
- Calories: 1,460
- Added sugar: 22tsp
- Naturally occurring sugar from grape juice: 17tsp
The ‘skinny’ version has 1,060 calories...
The Cheesecake Factory Bistro Shrimp Pasta (Battered shrimp, mushrooms, tomato and arugula with spaghettini and a basil-garlic-lemon cream sauce).
- Calories: 3,120
- Saturated fat: 89g
- Sodium: 1,090mg
Chili’s Rack of Baby Back Ribs with Shiner Bock BBQ Sauce
- Calories: 1,660
- Saturated fat: 39g
- Sodium: 5,025mg
The dish is served with Homestyle Fries (400 calories) and Cinnamon Apples (270 calories) for 2,330 calories in total.
The Cheesecake Factory Crispy Chicken Costoletta (Lightly breaded and sauteed chicken breast with mashed potatoes and fresh asparagus).
- Calories: 2,610
- Saturated fat: 89g
- Sodium: 2,720mg
Uno Chicago Grill Deep Dish Macaroni & 3-Cheese (Penne with Cabot Aged Cheddar, Parmesan & Romano with buttery crumb topping).
- Calories: 1,980
- Saturated fat: 71g
- Sodium: 3,110mg
Maggiano’s Little Italy Chocolate Zuccotto Cake (Chocolate cake with sambuca chocolate mousse and chocolate frosting).
- Calories: 1,820
- Saturated fat: 62g
- Added sugar: 26tsp
Johnny Rocket’s Big Apple Shake
- Calories: 1,140
- Saturated fat: 37g
- Sugar: 13tsp
IHOP Country Fried Steak & Eggs (8oz fried beef steak with gravy served with two eggs, hash browns and two buttermilk pancakes).
- Calories: 1,760
- Saturated fat: 23g
- Sodium: 3,72mg
- Sugar: 11tsp
Johnny Rocket Bacon Cheddar Double (White-flour bun with two beef patties, cheddar cheese, bacon, and sauce).
- Calories: 1,770 calories
- Saturated fat: 50g
- Sodium: 2,380mg of sodium.
Add Sweet Potato Fries for another 590 calories and 800mg of sodium.
Americans deserve to know what they’re eating
CSPI executive director Michael F. Jacobson said: “It’s as if IHOP, The Cheesecake Factory, Maggiano’s Little Italy, and other major restaurant chains are scientifically engineering these extreme meals with the express purpose of promoting obesity, diabetes, and heart disease.
“I hope the Obama Administration promptly finalizes overdue calorie labeling rules for chain restaurants”, he added.
“Not only do Americans deserve to know what they’re eating, but, as our Xtreme Eating ‘winners’ clearly indicate, lives are at stake. And perhaps when calories become mandatory on menus, chains will begin innovating in a healthier direction, instead of competing with each other to make Americans heavier and sicker.”
A typical adult should consume about 2,000 calories and no more than 20g of saturated fat and 1,500mg of sodium per day, says the CSPI.
The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend consuming no more than six teaspoons of added sugars for women and nine teaspoons for men.
The awards are published in the January/February edition of the CSPI's Nutrition Action Healthletter .