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Can You Guess America’s Unhealthiest Fast Food Chains?

Can You Guess America’s Unhealthiest Fast Food Chains?

When you’re craving a drive-thru meal, where is the worst place you could go?

Let’s face it. But as it turns out, no two fast food brands are created equal, at least when it comes to nutritional value. A team of researchers at The Wall Street Journal recently analyzed the publicly available nutrition information from menus at major fast food chains across America and ranked them based on six nutrition components: levels of saturated fat, trans fat, sodium, carbohydrates, sugars, and calories. The result was a ranked list of the least healthy chains in America.

“When I think of extremely unhealthful fast-food items, they tend to be large, meat-heavy sandwiches,” nutrition expert Christine Palumbo said. “They are high in calories, sodium, and saturated fat.” It’s no surprise, then, that the lowest-ranking restaurants mostly served burgers and beefy sandwiches.

The winner (or loser, depending on how you look at it) of the Journal’s analysis of the worst fast food chains is Sonic. Sonic, the territory of milkshakes and roller-skating servers, is the unhealthiest chain in the business. Almost half of their menu options contain more than 600 calories, and 87 percent of their meals are considered unhealthy by the Journal’s six metrics. The average Sonic burger packs 780 calories, and almost half of their menu items contain at least one gram of the soon-to-be-illegal trans fats.

Here’s the rest of the bottom 10 list, ranked in order from best to worst.

Burger King

Checkers

Chick-fil-A

Wendy’s

Jack in the Box

Arby’s

Quizno’s

Whataburger

Carl’s Jr.


Why Ordering From A "Secret Menu" Might Be A Huge Mistake

If you pay even a little attention to food news and trends you've probably seen a headline about a so-called "secret menu item" floating around at one point or another. Whether it's a Quesarita from Chipotle or a Double Grilled Cheeseburger from Five Guys, it seems like everywhere you look, people have supposedly cracked the secret menu code.

But what if I told you that secret menus are, in fact, a very bad idea?

Let's back up here a second and define what a "secret menu" is, for those who don't know. If you're not familiar with the term, a secret menu is a list of foods that you can make at certain restaurants and fast food chains but that are not listed as options on-menu. It's simple math, as former Kitchenette writer C.A. Pinkham wrote in a similar piece. If a restaurant has buffalo sauce and chicken, the people working there can probably make you a buffalo chicken sandwich. But this simple fact has e n t h r a l l e d people. A whole culture has been started surrounding making and ordering these items from restaurants. And that is not a good thing.

For one, something on the secret menu is pretty much never going to be as good as something on the normal menu. The lovely people making your food (who we will get to in a minute!) have been trained and prepped to make a certain number of items that are readily available for everyone to order. Think about how whacky it gets when you try to make one simple modification to your meal. Now, imagine you tried to make 10. What you're making wasn't meant to be a thing! To paraphrase Zaddy Jeff Goldblum in Jurassic Park, people who make secret menu items are so concerned about whether they could, they didn't stop to think if they should.

Chain food is a delicious gift. Why would you want to ruin it by creating a Frankenstein's monster of a meal when you can enjoy the already off-the-wall items already gracing fast food menus, like a fried chicken donut sandwich! Do you think you can top that? You can't!

For another, to order these things sounds silly at best and rude at worst. Sure, some secret menu items are not so bad and might even be borderline genius, like asking for Big Mac sauce on your normal cheeseburger at McDonald's. But I'd argue that's not a secret menu item, that's adding a condiment they have readily available. But ask for something like chicken patties in the place of buns, or a quesadilla from Chick-fil-A, and then I have lost all understanding of why you are the way you are.

Also these things tend to have silly names (like the Zebra Frappuccino) or even gross and bad names (like the McGangbang or the Suicide Burger). It's like when you go to a bar and they have super cutesy names for their drinks and you're like "why can't I just order a normal-sounding thing" but you have to tell the bartender you want a drink called like "I am having a peachy day" and you feel stupid. You're doing that to yourself! You're choosing to do this!

But "Kristin, you have no joy!" I hear you cry. "You lack whimsy!" Yes, you are correct. Guess what took that away from me? Being a fast food cashier! Working in the service industry is ridiculously tough. Often you'll have long lines and even longer hours along with unhappy customers, so the last thing a person working in fast food needs is some rando asking for something they've never even heard of and who will probably be annoyed when they get it "wrong."

Food is supposed to be fun, but it's not fun to make other people suffer so that you can get an Instagram. There are real reasons to get substitutions, even major ones, at restaurants. Simply wanting the clout and wanting to get a cool Instagram is not one of them, in my opinion.

Listen, I know this is not going to stop anyone from ordering whatever weird trendy item is gracing the internet this week. And even some current fast food employees may disagree with me and love making this stuff. But the least you can do is show courtesy to the people making your food (which you should always do, by the way!) by making sure they're not busy when you order off-menu. Also you should make sure you're letting them know exactly how to make it and assuming a Burger King employee knows what the hell a Rodeo Burger is. That is, again, if you MUST.

Or ya know, you could order your normal food, thank the nice people for feeding you and leave! Just some food for thought.


What Fast Food Chains Can Do to Solve America’s Obesity Epidemic

We all know we should eat right and exercise more to lose weight. However, this seemingly easy formula still challenges most people. More than one third of American adults are considered obese. To be obese, an individual’s BMI, or Body Mass Index, must be over 30. There are several exceptions to certain individuals, as a BMI does not always correlate to whether an individual is healthy or not (just take a look at the weight of defensive football players and you’ll know what I mean).

There are plenty of weight-loss supplements, diets, and remedies on the market that are being advertised as a magical solution to weight loss. The real question is, do they really work? The ultimate culprit of this obesity epidemic is the food that is advertised to us all. You are what you eat, and unfortunately the truth about what we actually do eat hurts a little.

The Problem

Americans have a constant go-go-go attitude everything is rushed and we are always in a time crunch. The fast food option just makes sense. With about 50,000 fast food restaurants in the United States and an astounding 500,000 in the world, they are basically everywhere. Not only that, but advertisements on cheap meals seems to be the only thing that grabs our attention. Fast food chains even get celebs to appear on commercials advertising their products so these fatty meals are even more glorified.

Photo courtesy of americannutritionassociation.org

Unfortunately, even if you want to be health conscious and watch what you eat it, it can be extremely difficult. Ever heard of a food desert? It means that there are places in America where it is hard to purchase affordable, fresh food. Sometimes our hands are tied and it’s virtually impossible to get a healthy meal in our lives.

For Example…

Americans start their day off in many different ways, but most start with a hearty breakfast. It’s the most important meal of the day, right? Avocado toast is a great way to start the day, as an avocado is filled with healthy fats and are naturally sodium- and cholesterol-free. When paired with a piece of whole grain toast, it provides great long-lasting energy.

But avocados can get pricey, averaging to more than a dollar for one. Just. One. Avocado. Add a load of good whole grain bread, which averages between 3-4 dollars, and thats about 5 dollars for one meal, not to mention the additional work in preparing the ingredients. Add a fried egg on top and the cost just rises faster than a helium-filled ballon.

The alternative that many Americans might take is the good old drive-thru. Having a Sausage Egg McMuffin once or twice a month won’t kill you, but when it is a routine to eat it 3-4 times a week, it can create a deadly habit. With a whopping 470 calories, half of which are from fat, it really is a belly buster. The main reason people still flock to McDonald’s for their breakfast needs is that it is convenient and cheap, two things that are not usually associated with healthy food.

What You Can Do

Here are some tips if you have to eat out in a pinch:

  • If you are eating fast food ask for no salt on your fries. Not only do they make you a fresh batch of fries, but you also save yourself some sodium, which we all could use less of.
  • Order one size smaller—your wallet and stomach will thank you.
  • Always order water (or carbonated water if you like the bubbles from soda). Cutting down on the sugar will save you some pounds in the long run.
  • Think your salad is healthy? Think again— many salads are drowning in dressing. Try to order your dressing on the side or use a vinegar/oil-based dressing.

What Fast Food Chains Can Do

Yes, there has been a lot of improvement within the fast food industry to provide nutrition facts for the products they serve and whether they use artificial colors and preservatives, but we’ve heard it all. At the end of the day, accommodating the public is crucial. No one is going to go online and look up how many calories their McFlurry has.

Printing nutrition labels at the bottom of these meals in super tiny illegible font also isn’t helping. The food industry needs to take a serious look at what their products are doing to the country and how they are advertising it. Glorifying these high-calorie meals might be their winning advertising technique, but it is ultimately hurting customers. Don’t we matter?

One Last Thing

In America, it might be unavoidable to not get take out or order fast food once in a while, or it might be a part of our daily routine. It’s a lifestyle many of us are accustomed to. There is nothing wrong with that. But as a society we need to take our health into consideration.

We are given one body to live in and we have to love it. We should try to work with our busy schedules and the inevitable eating habits that accommodate that. It might be a difficult change, but it’s the only way we can stop ourselves from spiraling into the obesity epidemic and start to truly take care of what we are grateful to have.


2. Cinnabon Delights – Taco Bell

Let’s be honest, the idea of consuming balls of fried sugar dough filled with sugar sauce for breakfast is too good to be true. And if the idea of getting a Cinnabon-type item from Taco Bell isn’t enough of a red flag, this ingredient list filled with multiple trans fats might.

With an ingredient list longer than most novels, these doughy gut bombs are best avoided. Stick with some dark berries and a pasture-raised egg and spinach omelet in the morning. Your stomach will thank you.

  • Calories: 930
  • Total Fat: 53g (82%)
  • Trans Fat: 2g
  • Sugar: 59g
  • Source:Fast Food Nutrition

This restaurant is known for its spice! Their dan dan noodles are a popular dish and are cooked in pork broth. The one danger of indulging in these noodles is the fact that some of the selections are fried with Sichuan peppercorn. The spice is generally quite good for your health, but the fried aspect risks offsetting it.

Via Youtube (MelBeeze Eats)

Along with PF Chang's, Panda Express is the second go-to Chinese fast-food chain in America. One of their most popular dishes is their Kung Pao chicken. This dish is only 290 calories and it's full of chicken, peanuts, and vegetables. So what's wrong with this? There is a large amount of salt in it (approximately 970 milligrams).


Top 10 Most Unhealthy Fast Food Chains In America

A recent report from 24/7 Wall St. identified the 10 least healthy fast-food restaurant chains in the U.S. Fast-food chains were evaluated using data from Nutritionix, a nutrition information database.

To determine which chains are the least healthy overall, 24/7 Wall St. compared menu items from the different chains against one another on the basis of saturated fat, trans fat, sodium, carbohydrate, sugar and calorie levels.

10. Burger King

Unhealthy breakfast and side items earn Restaurant Brands International Inc (NYSE: QSR)'s Burger King (and its 1,420-calorie Ultimate Breakfast Platter) the 10th spot on 24/7 Wall St.’s unhealthy restaurants list.

Over 75 percent of Checkers’ menu item meals have higher saturated fat levels than comparable meals at other fast-food chains.

8. Chick-fil-A

While Chick-fil-A’s Grilled Chicken Sandwich is the healthiest meal selection across nearly every category of comparison, almost 45 percent of its side items have exceptionally high sugar content compared to the side items of other fast-food chains.

The Wendy's Co (NASDAQ: WEN)'s high-calorie Baconator hamburger contains almost half of the average adult’s daily value of calories and 115 percent of the recommended daily value of saturated fat.

6. Jack in the Box

Eight of the burgers on Jack in the Box Inc (NASDAQ: JACK)’s menu contain an entire day’s worth of saturated fat, and the Chicken Teriyaki Bowl on its lighter fare menu has more carbohydrates and sugar than 98 percent of the meal items at other fast-food chains.

The Wendy's Co makes its second appearance in the top 10 for its nearly 20 percent ownership stake in Arby's. All but one of Arby’s sandwiches ranked poorly in at least two of the six nutrition level categories, and one third of meal items on Arby’s menu—roast beef sandwiches included—contain trans fat.

The meal options at Quizno’s ranked the least healthy among all fast-food chains, with 21 of Quizno’s sandwiches containing over 1,000 calories.

3. Whataburger

Ninety percent of Whataburger’s side items contain more than the daily recommended value of at least one of the six nutrition categories examined by 24/7 Wall St., and over 50 percent of Whataburger’s meal items ranked in the top third among all fast-food chains for saturated fat.

Six of the breakfast sandwiches on Carl’s Jr.’s menu contain 6 grams of trans fat—a type of fat that is deemed unhealthy in any amount.

Nearly 50 percent of Sonic Corp (NASDAQ: SONC)’s menu items contain at least 1 gram of saturated fat, and 10 of Sonic’s hamburgers have more than 1,100 calories, making Sonic the least healthy fast-food chain on 24/7 Wall St.’s list.

See more from Benzinga

© 2015 Benzinga.com. Benzinga does not provide investment advice. All rights reserved.

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Can You Guess The Fast Food Restaurant From A Few Menu Items?

Are you ready to "have it your way?" No one really likes slow-moving things, so you can imagine why fast food restaurants are a craze in the United States! From the delicious taste to high calories, fast food is often seen as a guilty pleasure, but who can stop themselves from enjoying their favorite burger or chicken nuggets? From fan favorite, McDonald's, to the "fresher" alternative of Subway, can you guess the fast food restaurant from a few menu items?

It seems that patrons of the 1800s preferred to eat "slow food" because "fast food" was a concept that was introduced in the 1920s. The first chain was White Castle which opened up in 1921. It would be soon be followed by A&W in 1923. Since then, some of the world's most famous fast food chains have been popping up. McDonald's came about in 1940, Burger King in 1953, and Taco Bell in 1962. Subway, the largest fast-food chain around the world, was founded in 1965 in Bridgeport, CT.

While these might be some of your favorite fast food chains, how well do you know their menu? Would you find a Crunchwrap Supreme at Wendy's or Taco Bell? Is a Whopper the classic burger at McDonald's or Burger King? Take a bite out of this quiz and put your fast food knowledge to the test! Can you guess the fast food restaurant from a few menu items? Let's find out!


15 Around The World: Papa John’s Pizza

If you don’t plan to eat anything that’s quite injurious to your health, then you should avoid Papa John’s garlic cheddar knots. The reason why this meal is dangerous is that it’s almost impossible to stop at one. In fact, once you have tasted three, you’d want to comprise the number of calories you should eat in a day just to suit your taste buds, thanks to the cheesy twists.

This global company took it upon themselves to ensure customers are happy. However, if you keep eating this religiously, they will end up having no customers. This is because one garlic cheddar knot contains 130 calories, 260 g sodium, 1.5 g saturated fat, 1 g of sugar, 4.5 g fat, 1 g fiber, and 17 g carbs – that might just lead you to your deathbed faster than expected if you feast on it every other day. In summary, be measured with it.


Can You Guess The Fast Food Restaurant From A Few Menu Items?

Are you ready to "have it your way?" No one really likes slow-moving things, so you can imagine why fast food restaurants are a craze in the United States! From the delicious taste to high calories, fast food is often seen as a guilty pleasure, but who can stop themselves from enjoying their favorite burger or chicken nuggets? From fan favorite, McDonald's, to the "fresher" alternative of Subway, can you guess the fast food restaurant from a few menu items?

It seems that patrons of the 1800s preferred to eat "slow food" because "fast food" was a concept that was introduced in the 1920s. The first chain was White Castle which opened up in 1921. It would be soon be followed by A&W in 1923. Since then, some of the world's most famous fast food chains have been popping up. McDonald's came about in 1940, Burger King in 1953, and Taco Bell in 1962. Subway, the largest fast-food chain around the world, was founded in 1965 in Bridgeport, CT.

While these might be some of your favorite fast food chains, how well do you know their menu? Would you find a Crunchwrap Supreme at Wendy's or Taco Bell? Is a Whopper the classic burger at McDonald's or Burger King? Take a bite out of this quiz and put your fast food knowledge to the test! Can you guess the fast food restaurant from a few menu items? Let's find out!


See if you can guess the 10 fastest-growing restaurant chains in America

A few weeks ago, we all shared a collective “ huh? ” when a highly dubious tweet made the rounds claiming that MOD Pizza was the most popular fast food in as many as 12 of the 50 states. Many Twitter users replied that they’d never even heard of MOD Pizza, let alone spotted a MOD location anywhere near their communities. Yet in spite of the fact that MOD isn’t exactly a household name, the data shows that it was one of the fastest-growing restaurant chains in 2018, if not the most popular or top grossing one. In the world of fast-casual dining, “growth” is a key metric. And this month, Nation’s Restaurant News has released 2020's updated list of the top ten fastest-growing restaurant chains in the U.S.

A lot of the spots on the list seem surprising, but of course, that’s the point: they’re places that you’ve perhaps interacted with on some level, but whose national profile is steadily rising from relative obscurity. For the most part, you’re not going to see your old fast food mainstays on this list, which have been around for the better part of a century—though Chick-fil-A, founded in 1946, is a notable exception to this rule. NRN reports that Chick-fil-A saw a 21.14% growth in sales and greatly expanded its number of locations (it’s up to around 2,400 outlets nationwide).

NRN notes that the data is derived from the previous fiscal year, and that, “Given that timing, these results largely predate the impact of coronavirus, which continues to unfold. Still, they offer insights as to which brands had the strongest momentum coming into this year.” It’s almost impossible to predict the extent to which the global pandemic will slow that momentum to a crawl.

MOD Pizza, meanwhile, is still on the top ten list in 2020, but it has fallen to number three in the rankings. See if you can guess which two chains outpaced it this year.