Super-Sized Meal Deals Not a Bargain at All

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June 13, 2006 | 5,360 views

The average "super-sized" fast-food meal costs only 67 cents more than a regular meal, but researchers from the University of Wisconsin-Madison found that the extra calories consumed -- about 400 on average -- could cost much more than that.

Eating extra calories regularly will result in weight gain, which, researchers say, results in higher bills for groceries, health care and even gasoline. The average "upsized" meal could result in:

  • 5 cents more in fuel expenses (more weight reduces fuel efficiency)

  • 35 cents more in overall food costs (heavier people eat more)

  • 82 cents to $6.64 in added health care expenses 

    For every 100 extra calories a person consumes in a day, it could cost them from 48 cents to $2 when other expenses are analyzed. The researchers hope that evaluating the costs of weight gain from a financial standpoint may help people understand that upsizing a meal is often not worth it in the long run.

    Journal of the American College of Nutrition June 2006, Vol. 25, No. 3, 203-209

    Well, the lead article in this issue tell us that one-third of the meals Americans eat are not at home, and a high percentage of those are at fast-food restaurants. Another third of the diet consists of junk foods like soda and potato chips.

    The typical American will eat three hamburgers every week and four orders of fries. McDonald's is the leader when it comes to serving food and many don't realize that McDonald's fries now come from huge manufacturing plants that can peel, slice, cook, and freeze 2 million pounds of potatoes a day.

    McDonald's is also the nation's largest purchaser of:

    • Beef
    • Pork
    • Potatoes

    It is also the second largest purchaser of chicken.

    The impact of McDonald's is hard to overstate. The golden arches are now more widely recognized than the Christian cross. And if you are a parent, you know all too well that every month 90 percent of American children between the ages of 3 and 9 visit a McDonald's, where they receive massive doses of soda. McDonald's sells more Coca-Cola than anyone else in the world.

    While nearly everyone enjoys getting a good deal for their food, most Americans are highly short-sighted when they make their meal selections. They are willing to exchange the short-term satisfaction of convenience and taste for their health.

    So do yourself a favor: plan ahead and avoid McDonald's.

    I have long advised my patients that it is no mystery that when noon rolls around and they are at work they will need to eat lunch. So, act like a Scout and be prepared. Do not go to bed at night until you have a clear plan on how you are going to nourish yourself with healthy food the next day.

    This way you avoid the crazy rush in the morning and have the resources in place to not have to select from a local fast-food restaurant, which can't possibly serve you a nutritious meal.

  • [+]Sources and References [-]Sources and References