September 3, 2006

License To Eat Fast Food

Stripped from today’s headlines:

Obesity An 'International Scourge'
Conference Warns Of Global Fat Pandemic's Consequences

"Obesity is an international scourge," Prof. Paul Zimmet, the chairman of the meeting of more than 2,500 experts and health officials, told delegates in a speech opening the International Congress on Obesity. "This insidious, creeping pandemic of obesity is now engulfing the entire world."

An average adult is supposed to require only about 2000 calories of food per day to stay healthy. When the World Health Organization says that more than 1 billion adults around the world are overweight, with 300 million of them considered obese, I’m not surprised. It’s really very easy to exceed our daily food intake quota, especially in the more industrialized nations where everything is biggie-sized. With all the excess calories we consume getting stored in the body as fat, we’re kicked into the obese category quicker than we can say, “Burp.”

So, having too much time on my hands, I went surfing for the nutrition information on some of our favorite fast food places (interesting how they all provide these numbers now for public consumption – pun intended). I culled the calorie and fat count of their biggest and smallest burger items (all their other burger choices have nutrition values in between) from Wendy’s, McDonald’s, Burger King, and Carl’s Jr.:

Big Bacon Classic = 580 calories, 29 grams of fat
Jr. Burger = 280 calories, 9 grams of fat

Double Quarter Pounder with cheese = 730 calories, 40 grams of fat
Hamburger = 260 calories, 9 grams of fat
McDonald's Menu Items Nutrition

Burger King
Triple Whopper Sandwich with Cheese = 1230 calories, 82 grams of fat
Whopper Jr. = 370 calories, 21 grams of fat

Carl’s Jr.
Double Six Dollar Burger = 1522 calories, 110 grams of fat
Low Carb Six Dollar Burger = 490 calories, 37 grams of fat

Now, for my radical idea...

The Health Department should issue “License To Eat Fast Food” cards specifically for dining in fast food restaurants. They can be called “License To Overeat” or “License To Stuff Yourself” cards, whatever. The idea is to have different fast food eating clearance levels.

For example, if you want to have a Carl’s Jr. Double Six Dollar Burger (1522 calories) for lunch, you should be able to present a “License To Eat Fast Food” card with a LEVEL G (for Gorge) clearance. Which means you must be underweight (Body Mass Index of less than 18.5; refer to, a professional athlete, a body builder, or practicing for an eating competition.

Every six months, the Health Department will give qualifying exams for the various “License To Eat Fast Food” clearance levels.

Average, healthy persons in the normal BMI ranges (18.5-24.9) will get a LEVEL E (for Eat Healthy) clearance. They’re allowed to order anything on the menu that doesn’t have the words “Big,” “Double,” "Triple," or “Whopper.”

People who are in the overweight and obese brackets (BMI of 25 and higher) will get a LEVEL C (for Control) clearance. They can order anything on the menu that has the words “Low,” “-Free,” and “Diet,” with a maximum of 3 items per 3-hour period.

How to implement that is another story (not to mention the flack it’ll raise from the Hefty-and-Happy crowd). But hey, it’s an idea. After all, “Global Fat Pandemic” deserves some serious thought.

If you’re interested in an easy way to compare nutrition information among the 12 leading fast food restaurant chains, here’s a site with a handy search interface: The Fast Food Nutrition Fact Explorer.


Anonymous said...

I am glad that I go for BK's Whopper Junior. Good for the price and the waistline, apparently. dawn

ruby said...

Hi dawn! There's another burger place, Whataburger, and their Whataburger Jr. is only 304 calories. If I gotta have a fastfood burger, that's what I go for. ;)

Tery Lynne said...

I love BK's Whopper Juniors and Mc Donalds Big Macs.

But I do eat them in moderation, so I don't feel so bad when I have one...Just one!

ruby said...

One is good! :)

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Anonymous said...

In the era of the 64-oz. soda, the 1,200-calorie burger, food companies now produce enough each day for every American to consume 3,800 calories per day as compared to the 2,350 needed for survival. Not only adults but kids are also consuming far more calories than they can possibly use.

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