The Unhealthy Awards

The results are in… the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) recently announced the winners of the 2016 Xtreme Eating Awards. Each year, the CSPI lists the top ten “Xtreme” restaurant meals in America, and this year, the highlighted foods are truly horrifying.

The Xtreme Eating Awards, which could also be called the “Unhealthy Awards,” paint a clear picture of the state of American fast food culture, and it’s frankly disgusting. These meals contain a shocking amount of calories — as many or more calories as a person needs in one day — along with double or even triple the daily intake amount of saturated fat and sugar.

Let’s take a look at just three examples:

Buffalo Wild Wings’ Dessert Nachos: This nauseating dessert consists of a deep-fried tortilla loaded with breaded cheesecake chunks, ice cream (4 scoops), chocolate, and caramel. It contains 2,100 calories, 30 teaspoons of sugar (yes, 30), and 64 grams of saturated fat. Now remember, this is a dessert, so it’s assumed that someone already ate an entire meal before getting to these sugar nachos.

The Cheesecake Factory’s Fried Chicken & Waffles Benedict: Whether it’s eaten for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, this meal contains waffles covered with deep fried chicken strips, poached eggs, Hollandaise, and syrup, with deep-fried potatoes on the side. Chowing down on this will amount to 2,580 calories, 15 teaspoons of sugar, and 86 grams of saturated fat.

Uno Pizzeria & Grill’s Whole Hog Burger: Want a burger as big as your head? Uno’s got one. This burger contains ground beef, bacon, sausage, pepperoni, and prosciutto, along with four types of cheese. It’s slathered in garlic mayonnaise, and served with both french fries and onion rings. All together, it totals out to 2.850 calories, 62 grams of saturated fat, and enough sodium to last a human being six days (just under 10,000 milligrams… really).

To call these meals excessive would be a huge understatement. We live in a culture of overindulgence, and the restaurant industry is largely feeding it, while simultaneously feeding obesity, heart disease, cancers, and many other diseases. As Lindsay Moyer, a dietitian with the CSPI, pointed out:

“Unfortunately, these extreme meals are more like the rule, not the exception. America’s restaurant chains are serving up meals that seem engineered to promote diabetes, obesity, heart disease, and strokes. The 3,000-calorie burger platters of today make McDonald’s Quarter Pounders look like sliders.”

Today, the majority of the diseases that doctors find themselves treating are diseases of overconsumption. This is the first time in history this has ever happened. For most of human history, we have suffered and died from diseases of “not enough” — insufficient food, for example. It’s good that many of us no longer have this particular problem: we know how to farm, and most of the industrialized world doesn’t have to worry about if we’re going to eat. However, it’s a slippery slope. The availability of sugar, fat, and calories in massive amounts now sicken us with diseases of excess. The tables have turned.

A typical person can thrive on 1500 to 2000 calories per day. The above-listed dishes contain many more than that, on single plates dripping with processed ingredients. Even though an occasional indulgence or treat can be part of a healthy lifestyle, these meals are extreme, excessive, and dangerous. Our current food culture is certainly not something we should be proud of.

– Dr. Joshua Levitt

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