Are we witnessing another amazing race – the pursuit to see which fast food outlet can add the fattiest, highest sodium and calorie item to their menu. I say amazing because what is happening simply boggles the mind.
Are these companies bringing these items to the marketplace simply for their shock value and publicity? While that may be the case, I think they simply add to the weight of evidence that the government should not expect their approach of voluntary action by food companies to be successful.
Witness Boston Pizza’s new offerings: The Pizzaburger – the pepperoni and bacon Pizzaburger and the five-cheese Pizzaburger. The first is a bacon burger wrapped in a pepperoni pizza while the second is a burger in a five-cheese pizza.
Yup- that’s right: a bacon burger wrapped in a pepperoni pizza is just what you needed. It supplies 1170 calories, 73 grams of fat, 33 grams of saturated fat and 2230 milligrams of sodium- that’s right – almost a day’s fat and saturated fat. The sodium is almost at what has been designated the Upper Tolerable Limit of 2300 milligrams in just one item.
It’s interesting to note that the nutrition information on these products is not on Boston Pizza’s website nor is it available in the stores. So much for the argument that chain restaurants don’t need to list the nutrition information on menus.
Compare those tallies to the recommended counts for fat — 90 grams for men and 65 grams for women and 1500 milligrams of sodium.– And those are all figures for the entire day, not just one food choice!
Yoni Freedhoff in his Weighty Matters blog points to Wendy’s latest, their “Ultimate Canadian” combo of a Baconator, poutine and a medium Coke which weighs more than a kilogram and supplies 1,860 calories, 3,380mg of sodium and thanks primarily to the “medium” Coca-Cola, 17 teaspoons of sugar.
Gluttonous offerings have become a real fetish in today’s society as many eateries go for the shock value in an attempt to outdo their competition. And this extreme eating has a following as the fans eagerly await the declaration of the next combo.
An interesting point about these over the top menu items is we live in a society that anxiously awaits each new extreme food offering and at the same time, reviles anyone who is openly overweight. A thin person, on the other hand, might be called lucky for being able to indulge in these foods (if it’s a thin woman chowing down on a big piece of meat, it’s even considered sexy), despite the fact that if they are “skinny fat” he or she might have high blood pressure or be at higher risk for heart disease than an overweight person who exercises.
Some people counter that these gluttonous menu items are simply a backlash against being told what to eat. They don’t want to be advised to read nutrition labels or to do things like eat more veggies. Sure – that seems logical if you’re a child and you’re rebelling against your parents who are giving you rules.
Many of the same individuals don’t want to see any movement towards regulating changes in the food supply. When any expert committees set forth recommendations such as in the case of the trans fat or sodium content of our food, they all yell that we’re heading towards a nanny state. But what about the fact that we’ve never seen food like this before? When we see companies one upping each other with offerings containing more than two days worth of sodium in one item alone at the same time that high blood pressure is being diagnosed in more and more teenagers, what’s the answer?
Now if you’re one of the many people who would never indulge in one of these over-the-top offerings but instead look for healthier fast food options, you might venture to Tim Hortons. After all what could be more wholesome than a serving of small serving of Hearty Vegetable Soup and a Turkey Chipotle Panini on Multigrain? How about the total of 2140 milligrams of sodium? It’s well over the recommended daily total and almost at that upper limit – just for these two thought-to-be-wholesome items.
In the meanwhile, our government states that they are making headway in getting companies to reduce their sodium in our food and therefore we don’t need any regulations such as Bill C-460, Sodium Reduction Strategy for Canada Act.
Do you agree? Do you think we are making progress in reducing our sodium intakes? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below.