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The 9 Unhealthiest Restaurant Meals Are ...
By Candy Sagon, January 22, 2013 08:00 AM
A Cheesecake Factory chicken entrée that contains as many calories as a 12-piece bucket of KFC fried chicken. A Johnny Rockets' bacon- cheddar double burger, fries and 1,140-calorie milk shake blended with an entire piece of apple pie. An Uno Chicago Grill deep-dish macaroni with three cheeses that's equivalent to eating a family-size box of Stouffer's Macaroni & Cheese - with half a stick of butter melted on top.
These are among the nine Xtreme Eating "dis-honorees" on the annual list from the nonprofit Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI).
These oversize restaurant meals earned their dubious distinction for being loaded with an eye-popping, artery-clogging amount of fat, calories, sugar and salt - more than most Americans should eat in an entire day, let alone a single meal.
CSPI has been naming these top health offenders for six years, but senior nutritionist Jayne Hurley called this year's list "the worst of some of the worst," as she told CNN. Nutritional information for the list came from the restaurants' own websites.
Despite the health problems caused by obesity in this country, CSPI executive director Michael Jacobson said in a statement that it seems as if some restaurant chains "are scientifically engineering these extreme meals with the express purpose of promoting obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. You'd think that the size of their profits depended on their increasing the size of your pants."
What's surprising is that even savvy customers might not suspect some of these dishes as being as gut-busting as they are. After all, shrimp and pasta with mushrooms, tomatoes and arugula sounds pretty healthy.
But the Bistro Shrimp Pasta from The Cheesecake Factory, made with crispy battered shrimp, has more fat than even the menu's cheesecake. The stunning calorie count - 3,120 - is higher than for any other entrée on the menu, and the lemon cream sauce helps bring the dish's fat count to a whopping 89 grams. To put these numbers in context, most Americans should consume about 2,000 calories daily and no more than 20 grams of saturated fat, health experts say.
Among the list's dishonorable nominees:
- The Cheesecake Factory's Crispy Chicken Costoletta, breaded, sautéed and served with a lemon sauce, mashed potatoes and asparagus, has more calories and fat than a 12-piece bucket of Original Recipe fried chicken from KFC. The entire bucket has 2,550, while the Crispy Chicken Costoletta has 2,610.
- The large Peanut Power Plus Grape smoothie from Smoothie King, made with peanut butter, banana, milk and grape juice, may sound healthy but it has more than 1,460 calories and 22 teaspoons of added sugar.
- Johnny Rockets' Bacon Cheddar Double burger has 1,770 calories, 50 grams of saturated fat and 2,380 milligrams of sodium. Add an order of the Sweet Potato Fries (590 calories, 800 mg of sodium) and a Big Apple Shake (1,140 calories, 37 grams of saturated fat, 13 teaspoons of sugar) for a total of 3,500 calories, 88 grams of saturated fat and 3,720 milligrams of sodium. It's like eating three McDonald's Quarter Pounders with Cheese, a large Fries, a medium McCafé Vanilla Shake and two Baked Apple Pies.
- Uno Chicago Grill's Deep Dish Macaroni & 3-Cheese has a day's worth of calories (1,980) and three and a half days' worth of saturated fat (71 grams), thanks in part to an Alfredo sauce made from heavy cream, cheese, rendered chicken fat, and butter.
So what can a customer do? Consider sharing one of these monster meals with someone else. Or take half home for lunch the next day, suggests CSPI's Hurley.
For a CNN slideshow of all nine dubious dishes, click here.
Photo: Todd Patterson/Istockphoto