Xtreme Eating Awards 2017 shame restaurants

Wednesday, 02 August, 2017

Calorie counting and dieting are not for everyone, but the Xtreme Eating Awards by the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) highlight some of the most calorific and unhealthy options from popular food chains in America.

The annual awards, published in CSPI’s Nutrition Action Healthletter, put these meals into context by comparing their nutritional information to the recommended daily allowance of 2000 calories, 2300 mg sodium, 20 g saturated fats and 50 g added sugar.

The Cheesecake Factory appeared twice on this list, being awarded ‘Worst Cocktail Design’ for the Flying Gorilla and ‘Worst Pasta Dish’ for the Pasta Napoletana. The Flying Gorilla is an alcohol-infused milkshake with 950 calories, 26 g of saturated fat and about 60 g of added sugar. The company’s pasta dish also raised health concerns with Italian sausage, pepperoni, meatballs and bacon layered over creamy pasta that boasted a significant 2310 calories — 300 calories over the recommended daily allowance.

However, Alethea Rowe, senior director of public relations at The Cheesecake Factory, defended the company for its varied menu that features 250 options, including lower-calorie meals.

“For our calorie-conscious guests we have our award-winning SkinnyLicious menu, featuring nearly 50 delicious choices with 590 calories or less — which is actually larger than many restaurants’ entire menus,” she said.

Containing the nutritional value of roughly five Burger King Bacon Double Cheeseburgers, the Cheese Curd Bacon Burger by Buffalo Wild Wings contains three days’ worth of saturated fat (53 g) and features bacon, battered deep-fried cheese curds and a mayonnaise-based sauce.

Other awards included: the ‘Most Damage From Supporting Vegetable’, which went to Texas Roadhouse for its Loaded Sweet Potato with marshmallows and caramel sauce, bringing the calorie count up to 700; and the ‘Least Original Breakfast’, which was awarded to IHOP for its Cheeseburger Omelette with 4580 mg sodium.

Starting in 2007, the Xtreme Eating Awards aimed to encourage restaurants to take responsibility for what they were serving and address health concerns.

“These meals are extreme, but even the typical dishes served at restaurants are a threat to Americans’ health because they increase the risk of obesity, diabetes, heart disease and more,” said CSPI’s senior nutritionist, Lindsay Moyer.

Highlighting Domino’s in particular, CSPI awarded the pizza chain with the ‘Xtreme Putting Profits Before Public Health’ award for opposing calorie labelling. The 2010 Affordable Care Act required calories to appear on menus of chains with 20 or more outlets, and the Food and Drug Administration scheduled these rules to be implemented on 5 May this year. However, lobbyists for pizza chains and supermarkets convinced the Trump administration to delay it.

“Americans deserve to know what we’re eating, but Domino’s would prefer that we’re kept in the dark,” said Moyer. “Every day of delay means the industry has more opportunity to weaken the law that Congress passed seven long years ago.”

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