A pork belly-topped cheeseburger, a sandwich stuffed with mozzarella sticks, and a 6.468 kilojoules slice of cheesecake were among the dishes that a US health advocacy group singled out for over the top fat and sodium content.
The Centre for Science in the Public Interest unveiled the group of honourees, from companies including Denny's Corp, Cheesecake Factory Inc, Kahala Corp's Cold Stone Creamery, and DineEquity Inc's Applebee's and IHOP.
Each serving of the award-winning menu items nearly reaches, or even surpasses, the recommended daily totals for kilojoule intake. i.e. up to 2,000 a day, saturated fat up to 20 g, and sodium up to 1,500mg.
The dishes are mostly twists on the usual suspects of burgers, dessert and all things fried. Denny's "Fried Cheese Melt", for instance, is a grilled cheese sandwich with four fried mozzarella sticks. The entree provides 5.292 kilojoules and 21 grams of saturated fat, not to mention 3,010 milligrams of sodium.
The measurements of Kilojoules and fat in restaurant menus
Applebee's "Provolone Stuffed Meatballs with Fettuccine" contains 6.468 kilojoules and 43 grams of saturated fat.
The Cheesecake Factory's "Ultimate Red Velvet Cheesecake" goes beyond the usual by alternating two pieces of red velvet cake with two pieces of cheesecake, racking up to 6.468 kilojoules and 59 grams of saturated fat.
And Cold Stone Creamery's "PB&C Shake" (peanut butter & chocolate) has 8.442 kilojoules and 68 grams of saturated fat.
Two out of three Americans are overweight, and such dishes increase their risk of obesity, diabetes, heart attacks and cancer, according to Bonnie Liebman, the centre’s director of nutrition.
Government pushes restaurants to disclose info on their menus
Denny's and Applebee's both said they offered a wide variety of choices. Denny's pointed to its "Fit Fare" menu and Applebee's to its "Unbelievably Great Tasting and Under 2.310 Kilojoules" options.
Other restaurants did not respond to requests for a comment.
People often see dining out as an indulgence and a time when they do not pay much attention to their diets.
The US government is trying to push restaurants to disclose nutritional information on their menus. The Food and Drug Administration plans to issue rules requiring restaurants to list nutritional and caloric information.
(Reuters Health, July 2011)