X-Games of Obesity: The 9 Most Unhealthy Chain Restaurant Meals
Every year, the Center for Science in the Public Interest sends its best and bravest out to do some research on the most unhealthy chain restaurant meals in the nation. Dubbed the Xtreme Eating Awards, this list of nine gluttonous piles of food includes everything from milkshakes to steaks. But, as CSPI notes, all the items have one thing in common: “a total disregard for the obesity epidemic and the coming diabetes tsunami.”
Restaurants serving up downright irresponsible portions of high-calorie, sodium-rich foods might not be as big of a problem if going out to eat was a once-in-a-while occasion. But that’s not the case. Just a few months ago, it was announced that Americans, for the first time in history, are now spending more money at restaurants than at grocery stores. So if you, like the rest of the country, are dining out regularly, here are some meals you’d be well advised to avoid.
IHOP: Chorizo Fiesta Omelette and Pancakes
Sodium: 4,840 milligrams
Saturated fat: 42 grams
It’s not the 1,300 calorie, sausage-filled omelette that catapults IHOP onto this list, but rather, the 690 extra calories of pancakes and syrup that come on the side. Also, IHOP inexplicably dilutes its eggs with pancake batter. Yo dawg, we heard you like pancakes, so we put pancakes in your omelette so you can eat pancakes while you’re eating pancakes.
Dickey’s BBQ Pit: 3 Meat Plate
Sodium: 4,700 milligrams
Saturated fat: 49 grams
The Dallas-based chain with more than 400 locations stakes its name on huge portions of not just smoked meats but also side dishes like mac and cheese—which, contrary to popular belief, is not a vegetable. The restaurant also gives out free rolls with all entrées and has a soft-serve ice cream dispenser parked in the middle of each restaurant with a sign that reads, “Help Yourself! It’s Free!”
Outback Steakhouse: Herb-Roasted Prime Rib Dinner
Sodium: 3,560 milligrams
Saturated fat: 71 grams
The reason meat is generally measured in ounces is because it’s wholly unreasonable for a person to consume more than a pound in one sitting. Well, not at Outback, where not only is a pound a standard order for fat-marbled prime rib, but it comes with a baked potato, a ranch-soaked side salad, and complimentary rolls.
The Cheesecake Factory: Louisiana Chicken Pasta
Sodium: 2,370 milligrams
Saturated fat: 80 grams
This 24-ounce plate of bow tie pasta comes swith a heaping helping of Parmesan-crusted chicken and enough Spicy New Orleans Sauce to drown a mini horse. Acording to CSPI, it is the caloric equivalent of two bowls of Olive Garden fettuccine Alfredo plus two breadsticks.
Sonic: Large Pineapple Upside-Down Master Blaster
Saturated fat: 61 grams
Trans fat: 4.5 grams
The grand irony of this massive dessert hybrid making the list is that it’s not intended to be a meal—well, hopefully. This monstrosity is supposed to be that final sweet bite (or 60) that caps off an already fulfilling and balanced pile of food. If youre wondering where the two days’ worth of trans fat is coming from, it’s the pie crust that’s whirred into it. That’s right: There’s pie crust in Sonic’s milkshake named after a cake.
Red Lobster: Create Your Own Combo (Parrot Isle Jumbo Coconut Shrimp, Walt’s Favorite, Linguine Alfredo)
Sodium: 6,530 milligrams (four days’ worth)
Saturated fat: 37 grams
The federal Choose My Plate guidelines recommend you eat fish at least twice a week, but maybe Red Lobster isn’t the best place to make that happen. Beware of any restaurant where half the shellfish dishes come smothered in cheese.
Uno Pizzeria and Grill: 2 for $12 Pick and Choose (Chicago Classic Deep Dish Pizza and Baked Ziti With Sausage)
Sodium: 5,420 milligrams
Saturated fat: 49 grams
Two! As one person, you are encouraged to buy two separate meals for the low price of $12! Even if you cut that calorie count in half, you still have meals sitting in the four-digit range. Even a personal pan pizza from Pizza Hut only has 539 calories. Not all pizzas are created equally unhealthy.
The Cheesecake Factory: Warm Apple Crisp
Saurated fat: 48 grams
Added sugar: 32 teaspoons
Just because there’s fruit in the name of the dish does not make it healthy—especially when that fruit is covered in caramel, ice cream, and whipped topping. You would actually be better off, calorically speaking, downing two slices of cheesecake for dessert than eating a whole bucket-size portion of sugared-up fruit.
Steak ’n Shake: 7x7 Steakburger, Fries, and Chocolate Fudge Brownie Milkshake
Sodium: 5,060 milligrams
Saturated fat: 68 grams
Why stop at seven patties and seven slices of cheese? Why not go 8x8? Or 9x9? Or just stack alternating meat disks and cheese squares on top of one another until it busts through the ceiling and acts like a beefy lightning rod? The 145x145, coming soon to a Steak ’n Shake near you (not really).