You could be living under a rock, and you would still know that obesity rates are out of control. The Center for Disease Control states that in the United States more than 2/3 of the population qualifies as overweight, with 1/3 being considered obese. With billions being spent in medical costs dealing with the health problems stemming from obesity everyone looks for who to blame. One popular and simple scapegoat is the entire fast food industry. There was even the documentary called Super Size Me, which was nominated for an Oscar, that profiles the health complications caused by eating McDonald’s. Everywhere in the health world you can hear about how terrible chains like McDonald’s, Burger King, Taco Bell, and Carl’s Jr. truly are. However, the public may be too quick to place the blame, and actually overlook the healthy alternatives that have been popping up in these everyday chain restaurants.
In the past fast food chains have been known for their high calorie, high saturated fat, cheap, available foods. McDonald’s owns up to its reputation with a single item like the double quarter pounder with cheese coming in with 740 calories and 42 grams of fat. That equates as more than 1/3 your daily allowance of calories and more than double the suggested amount of daily fat for just the sandwich. Taco Bell may not prove to be much better with their crazy unhealthy volcano nachos, which will add a quick 970 calories to your body along with 58 grams of fat. Both Burger King and Carl’s Jr. have similar numbers to their more popular heart attack inducing foods. However, just because you’re trying to watch you figure does not mean you have to completely swear off these “evil” chains.
McDonald’s has taken steps to rectify the obesity outreach by firstly eliminating the Super Size option. It also now has a “Favorites under 400 [calories]” section where more weight conscious individuals can turn. Also, they have just released premium McWraps whose grilled versions range in calories from 360-460 and 9-18 grams of total fat. Taco Bell has also received some press by their marketing campaign “The Drive-Thru Diet,” and “Fresco Menu,” offering seven items less than 350 calories. These “new” items replace heavy calorie sauces and cheeses with fresh tomatoes in traditional tacos, burritos, and other taco bell favorites. A simple Fresco chicken soft taco wont hurt the calorie counters much when boasting a simple 150 calories and 3.5 grams of fat.
Burger King and Carl’s Jr. have both jumped onto the healthy alternative turkey burger bandwagon. Burger King just released a menu with an updated veggie burger as well as a brand new turkey burger that has a 530-calorie count with 26 grams of fat. If you knock off the fattening mayo you can enjoy this delicious burger for 370 calories and 9 grams of fat. Carl’s Jr. also has been pushing their guacamole turkey burger with 470 calories and 19 fat grams. This fairs much better when compared to their traditional guacamole “Six Dollar Burger,” which possesses 1030 calories and 69 grams from fat.
Even though these healthy alternatives may not be the end all cure to the nation’s obesity epidemic, they help to take the blame off these chains. These changes may be minimal and slight, and the majority of the fast food demons may still haunt waistlines. However, these small steps allow for healthier alternatives to become common ground as well as allowing those fast food loving dieters out there to revisit some of their favorite locales.