Lose Fat

Supersize Meal Deals: Good on the Wallet, Bad on the Waistline

How meal deals can supersize your waistline and how to avoid falling into these dietary grease traps.



Bodybuilders, beware those fast-food meal deals. For just a few pennies more, you can add hundreds of excess calories, many from fat and/or sugar. That's what researchers from several health organizations found when they visited fast-food and mall eateries, as reported by the American Institute for Cancer Research.

At one fast-food burger chain, supersizing the meal deal provided 1,380 calories total for only 58 cents more. What a deal — until you consider that's about twice the calories our diner should eat for lunch.

At Cinnabon, the upgrade from the 300-calorie Minibon to the 670-calorie classic Cinnabon netted 123% more calories for only 23% more money, says the AICR. And at 7-Eleven, the shopper went from 150 calories of Coke to 600 calories for only 37 cents more. That's four times the sugar calories for less than four more dimes.

These were all upgrades for customers who originally ordered less, but were pitched supersizing or larger portions for just a little higher price. Why the hard sell of the excess calories? Simple — so restaurants can make more money.

"Since food, as opposed to labor, rent or utilities, is their smallest cost, they make money on such deals," says the AICR Newsletter for summer 2003. "Customers are happy, too. They pay a little less per unit and get an enormous amount of food." Seventy percent of customers generally eat everything they're served, says the AICR.

False Economy

In a society where people spend billions to lose weight, and where low-calorie and low-carb products bring premium prices at weight-loss centers, grocery stores and some eateries, why would someone want excess empty calories? It's truly an impulse buy.

Too bad we don't see deals for an extra chicken breast on a sandwich or salad. Since fast-food deals are mainly for extra fat and sugar, learn to think small when you order. When the server asks, "Do you want to supersize that?" consider whether you want to supersize your gut and butt.

Think of the cost not only to your health but also your physique. With most fast food, the more quantity you get for your money, the worse the food will be for you.


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