Many major restaurant chains across the U.S. seem to be trying to encourage obesity by serving meals that have calorie counts far exceeding the daily recommended amounts. Their meals may sound and look extremely appealing, but they are actually incredibly fattening, bad for you, and only contribute towards the country’s severe obesity epidemic.

The dishes with the unhealthiest ingredients are on this year’s list of Xtreme Eating ‘winners’, published in the latest issue of Nutrition Action Healthletter. Many of these meals can boast more than 3,000 calories and include bizarre combinations, such as a milkshake with an apple pie blended in, and a deep-fried steak with pancakes and hash browns, eggs, syrup and gravy (almost a heart attack on a plate).

Executive director of CSPI, Michael F. Jacobson, said:

“It’s as if IHOP, The Cheesecake Factory, Maggiano’s Little Italy, and other major restaurant chains are scientifically engineering these extreme meals with the express purpose of promoting obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. You’d think that the size of their profits depended on their increasing the size of your pants.”

A healthy adult should be eating around 2,000 calories a day, 20 grams of saturated fat and 1,500 milligrams of sodium. Any more than this and they increase their chances of becoming obese as well their risk of developing diabetes and serious cardiovascular complications later on in life.

However, more and more chains are serving dishes that on their own exceed the number of calories one should eat on a normal day and have almost five days’ worth of recommended saturated fat intake.

The meals that win the top places when it comes to being unhealthy, according to Xtreme Eating, include:

  • The Country Fried Steak & Eggs combo at IHOP, which is a deep-fried steak served with two fried eggs, deep fried potatoes, and buttermilk pancakes all generously poured over with gravy and syrup.

    The meal contains a total of 1,760 calories, 3,720 mg of sodium and 23 grams of saturated fat. It is the equivalent of having five McDonald’s Egg McMuffins.

  • A combination of the Johnny Rockets’ Bacon Cheddar Double Burger (,770 calories, 50 grams of saturated fat, and 2,380 milligrams of sodium) with a side order of Sweet Potato Fries (590 calories) and a Big Apple Shake, a shake which contains an actual slice of apple pie in it (1,140 calories).

    In total this whopping 3,500 calorie meal (two days’ worth) is equivalent to eating 3 McDonald’s Quarter Pounders with Cheese along with large fries, a medium vanilla shake and 2 of their Baked Apple Pies.

  • Uno Chicago Grill serves a Deep Dish Macaroni & 3-Cheese meal which includes four cups of pasta loaded with full fat cheese and topped with a creamy Alfredo sauce. The meal has more than three and a half day’s worth of saturated fat as well a day’s worth of calories (1,980).

Johnny Rockets - Plaza Las Américas
Fast food chains attract millions of customers and continue to serve unhealthy foods

Progress is slowly being made, in the near future thanks to health care reform legislation signed by President Obama in March 2010, all fast food restaurants are going to have a calorie count on their menus.

Jacobson concludes:

“I hope the Obama Administration promptly finalizes overdue calorie labeling rules for chain restaurants. Not only do Americans deserve to know what they’re eating, but, as our Xtreme Eating “winners” clearly indicate, lives are at stake.

And perhaps when calories become mandatory on menus, chains will begin innovating in a healthier direction, instead of competing with each other to make Americans heavier and sicker.”

Written by Joseph Nordqvist