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"20 Worst Foods in America"

Personally, I'm not a big calorie-counter or dieter or anything (I just like to eat good food), but this is somewhat fascinating:


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  1. thanks for the link.

    I will now have even more of a chuckle when I see people singing the praises of Chipotle, and PF Changs, & Jamba Juice as good food on here.

    1. Whoa...thanks for the link. If nothing else it's entertaining read. Some of the name for those things are pretty "impressive"...#1 and #10 are pure Americana.

      1. That is interesting..... I am glad I have managed to not eat any of those!

        6 Replies
        1. re: libgirl2

          Shoot, looks like I have to start eating sawdust again. Sigh.

          1. re: Phaedrus

            Well if those places could add fat and salt to the sawdust and top it with a ginormus marketing campaign...who knows.

            I've had the Quiznos sandwich, but not the large.

            1. re: ML8000

              OK, the salt and fat would do the trick. Maybe they can get a food personality to endorse it as their new creation, oh wait Applebees is already doing that.

            2. re: Phaedrus

              You don't have to eat sawdust. There are much better tasting and cheaper alternatives. Just eat something local and fresh. And not gigantic portions.

              1. re: Shane Greenwood

                I don't eat gigantic portions, I take home what I don't eat. However, I don't want the government or anyone else dictating that my portions should be smaller and that I should be paying the same price as for the gigantic portions.

                And there are times I don't want local or fresh. When I want a Twinkie, I want a Twinkie. The shame of that is, Twinkies have been downsized and the price has remained the same.

                Whatever happened to self control and personal responsibility.

                1. re: dolores

                  Well freaking said Dolores! Summed it up better than I could. Self control is what its all about... and choice. Dont hold our noses up to those eating that stuff, there is a time and a place for everything.

                  Screw twinkies, I want my deep dish pizzas all greased up once in a while as well as some good desserts and dont want to feel guilty about it.

          2. #4 on the baddie list - Macaroni Grill Meatballs & Spaghetti with Meat Sauce - Wifey and I love it. We like to split it and a half order of Insalada Blue.

            1 Reply
            1. re: rich in stl

              But even splitting it, you're still working on 1200 calories and 2500 mg of sodium each.

            2. To me the most surprising is Jamba Juice. They present their brand image as a healthy provider of juices and smoothies. But apparently some of those so-called "smoothies" are loaded with sugar and are more like milkshakes.

              3 Replies
              1. re: Shane Greenwood

                It's 30 ounces. That is an absurd amount of juice to drink. I live far away from the insanity of these sort of portion sizes. Here juice comes in 200ml bottles (6.8 ounces). That's more or less the way it was in the US when I was a kid. I just don't get why all of a sudden it is necessary for people to drink huge vats of soda, juice, coffee and tea.

                1. re: butterfly

                  I've only ever had the enlightened smoothies and they are healthy. The other things on the menu all have sorbet or something and are like 400-500 calories!

                  1. re: butterfly

                    The Jamba Juice "smoothie" on the list isn't a juice based smoothie. The ones with actual juice in them are, for the most part, a decent to good option. Especially if you stick with the 16oz size.

                2. Wow, 1500 for the 6 dollar burger? that's as many calories as I eat in a day! holy crap.

                  14 Replies
                  1. re: choctastic

                    1500?? That should be put away by noon.

                    Just kidding but this calorie counting stuff is a bit ridiculous. I do think its funny reading some of these but to turn our noses up at people who eat them just aint right. Im not above these things in the slightest to say "proud Ive never eaten nor will eat any of these on this list" . just coming off a bit pretentious

                    1. re: yankeefan

                      Somehow when I see entire families gorging themselves on mounds of cheese-covered fries and piles of fried meat, each person hugely obese, it really "just ain't right." Obesity is out of control in this country. Go to a mall and look around is there ONE person who couldn't stand to lose 10 pounds? Sure there's the occasional teen who's a size two, but almost everyone these days is packing extra weight. Everybody is getting fat is it's frightening if you think of the health ramifications, which are extensive. So if it's "pretentious" to mock the fat-laden piles of food served at restaurants, so be it. I WILL be proud not to eat the crap on this list because it's disgusting to see people eat as much as they do these days. People need to be more aware of what they're shoveling in their mouths so they can make better choices. Then again intelligence is often derided as pretention.

                      1. re: Fuser

                        I'm not sure if awareness is the most important issue. Certainly obese people don't eat every meal in a restaurant that does not disclose nutrition information. Chances are the majority of their meals are either eaten at home or in fast food restaurants, and in both of these cases they have ready access to the caloric content of their food. Does this keep them from eating just as much of it? Historically, no. That doesn't make it right, it just makes it the truth. Slapping nutrition facts on every restaurant's menu probably will not scare away the majority of their customers...that's the world we live in.

                        1. re: Fuser

                          I respect the opinions but just dont like the idea of looking down upon people that go to these restaurants. I will agree there is an epidemic out there but a lot of that is driven by choice.

                          Not everyone at Outback is a bohemoth that cant control themselves. Choice is choice and we all have it. If I go to a four-star joint and have some foie gras and a 12-course tasting menu, am I not stuffing myself solid because this is seen as higher class food?

                          Apologize for the stance, but I think there is a place for these restaurants and its unfair to judge those that go there.

                          1. re: yankeefan

                            Hey yankeefan, I don't think anyone is judging you as a person for choosing to eat this food. This discussion reads like a pretty level discussion about the fact that there is a lot of bad food out there being consumed in large quantities. That's a fact. So, go ahead and exercise your choice to eat whatever you want, but this discussion isn't about the quality of the people eating, it's about the quality of the food, and it ain't good.

                            1. re: yankeefan

                              I think you're right in that we all have to take responsibility for our own choices. Plus, there's room in a healthy diet for some (emphasizing *some*) of these things infrequently.

                              But one of the problems is that manufacturers and POS providers of this unhealthy food are often very active (and effective) advertisers and marketers, who know how to use images to entice, and have the money to flood the market with their pitches.

                              Institutions such as the Surgeon General's office, the NIH, state health agencies and even local hospital preventive health initiatives do not have the budgets to compete with General Foods, MacDonald's, Beatrice or GarbargeFood, Incorporated.

                              So Americans are inundated with the marketing messages that eating McSalt, Dunkin'Chemical, TacoFat and BeatriceSynthetifoods are part of a fun, glamorous, youthful, wholesome, happy family lifestyle. And our health officials can't compete in disseminating messages of tasty, healthful alternatives and the dire consequences of eating anti-food regularly.

                              I think we've got two whole generations now amongst which many people think it's okay (healthwise) to eat this stuff a few times a week or everyday. And the resulting epidemics have added to the other existing overwhelming burdens on our healthcare system, driven up cost, and, hence, our taxes. Not to mention some of the human misery slow deaths or decades-long health compromises or incapacitation have caused for real human beings. (And I'm not exaggerating about that when you think of the increase in diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, etc., etc.)

                              So, yankee, I agree with you that we shouldn't generalize about everyone who chooses to eat these foods, and I agree we have to preserve personal choice in this country.

                              I just wish the junk food purveyors didn't get away with so much in their planned programs to addict Americans, and hoodwink (read: lie to) Americans about the wholesomeness of their products, and I wish health officials who are trying to do the right thing had as good a public microphone as the food giants do.

                              Then, eight-year-olds and teenagers who depend on others to teach them could look forward to having a fighting chance (no pun intended), instead of pre-diabetes, as they establish their life-long food habits.

                              1. re: MaggieRSN

                                In order to take responsibility for our choices, we have to have the information on which to base that choice, and that's part of the problem. We're bombarded with marketing that encourages us to choose certain foods, without the counterbalance of information on the "cost" of that choice.

                                Obviously a lot of fast food/franchise food options are not healthy, but how many of us really know *exactly* how unhealthy they are? Even if you have a fair grasp of food values, restaurants are notorious for using extra, not-readily-observable fat and sugar to bump up the flavor.

                                I've been counting calories and losing weight, but the other day I popped into Baja Fresh for lunch and "splurged" on an Ultimo Burrito, which only has rice (no beans), veggies, meat and a little bit of cheese (no sour cream, no guac, etc.). The burrito comes with a handful of chips. Then I looked up the nutritional information on the internet: the burrito alone has 780 calories, and the chips are another 210. In other words, my fairly healthy seeming lunch clocked in at about 1000 calories!

                                I saw a piece (60 Minutes, I think) on the proposed requirement in NYC that chain restaurants post the calorie content of each offering. One thing they did was go to the food court and ask people how many calories they thought were in the meal they'd chosen. Everyone guessed between half and two-thirds of the actual amount. When they were told how many calories their meals really had, most of them said if they'd known, they would have chosen differently (of course, they may just have been saying that because there were cameras there, but still).

                                You can blather on all you want about personal responsibility and "choice" but the ability to make choices without the knowledge with which to make responsible choices is worthless. You wouldn't walk into a restaurant and order without having a general idea of how much it costs, why should you have to walk into a restaurant and order a meal without having a general idea of how many calories it has?

                                1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                  cook your own burritos.. then there is no excuse.
                                  probably taste better too.

                                  1. re: yankeefan

                                    Even if you were right that observation doesn't make my points any less valid. But as for there being "no excuse" -- most people, including me, don't have the luxury of eating every meal at home, or even at a time and place of our choosing. Apparently you do -- lucky you. I suppose unlike the rest of us mortals you never get caught needing something quick and convenient. I eat very well about 95 percent of the time. So one day I chose to go the route of getting lunch from the closest place to my office. I guess for that terrible sin I got what I deserved.

                                    1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                      What I said was a bit tongue in cheek- there is no need to lose sleep about enjoying a good fast food meal every now and then- guilty pleasures are what life is all about!

                                      Who am I to talk? My performance over a monstrosity of a creamy lobster bisque in an enormous bread bowl was among this that books are written about and Im sitting down right now enjoying a few beers that could constitute meals in themselves.

                                      Remember, Life is too short to not enjoy good food and good beer! Enjoy yourself.

                                      1. re: yankeefan

                                        Okay. But still, the point of the discussion is not that people shouldn't eat and enjoy fast food, but that people should be aware consumers.

                          2. re: yankeefan

                            We Americans are the worst offenders but there is an obsity epidemic all around the world. People in China, especially the young kids who are the results of the one child policy are spoiled rotten and eating American styled fast food frequently. Kids in France, Germany, Japan, they are all a part of the fast food generation.

                            1. re: yankeefan

                              Oh if I came across as turning up my nose at this food, I didn't mean to. Actually, I personally haven't had the exact things on the list, but I've had things like it. For instance, the aussie cheese fries sound like this "irish nachos" dish I grew up on.

                              That said, I can't believe the 6 dollar burger has 1500 calories. How the hell can a burger be that calorific? Is there a stick of butter in that thing or what? I mean..damn.

                              1. re: choctastic

                                It's the DOUBLE 6 dollar burger that has 1500 calories. A "low carb" single 6 dollar burger, which comes wrapped in lettuce and is entirely satisfying, is less than 500 calories.

                          3. I saw this last night !
                            It's just unbelievable. no wonder why there are so many obese problem in USA.

                            before scientist find out what cause people obese,
                            people have to learn how to eat.

                            1. I haven't had any of the 20 items, but looks like fun. I'm going to use the list as a guide next time I go to the US. See what I'm missing.

                              6 Replies
                              1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                I have not tried any of the list either, but I do not think you are missing out on anything by not having tried any of these items, perhaps other than "missing out" on a trip to the cardiologist, and an angioplasty. ; )

                                1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                  My guess would be you're not missing anything. I have never been to or even know where to find 80% of the places mentioned.

                                  1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                    No Sam, No. Don't do it. Save yourself before it's too late!

                                    I'm afraid the people who should read that list will never see it. It's all about education, then choices.

                                    1. re: Gio

                                      I say we as a group make this a quest- new years resolution for 2008 to try each of the 20!

                                      Obviously tongue in cheek, but would truly be a challenge. May not have any working arteries afterwards but hell, it would be interesting.

                                      1. re: yankeefan

                                        Yankeefan...... Me thinks you have a death wish?

                                    2. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                      Your quest makes sense to me. I'd love to read your report back.

                                    3. Would anyone mind cutting and pasting the list, as I'm dying to know. I have old computer equipment, and mnsbc just won't let me download the video; worse, other sites lead me back to that msnbc link. I'm so curious about what America is eating...appreciate anyone who will do the post of the 20.


                                      4 Replies
                                      1. re: cayjohan

                                        It's an article which requires multiple hits to read the entire list. May not be able to get it to you.

                                        1. re: cayjohan

                                          The 20 worst foods in America

                                          20: Worst fast-food chicken meal
                                          Chicken Selects Premium Breast Strips from McDonald's (5 pieces) with creamy ranch sauce
                                          # 830 calories
                                          # 55 grams (g) fat (4.5 g trans fat)
                                          # 48 g carbohydrates

                                          The only thing "premium" about these strips is the caloric price you pay. Add a large fries and regular soda and this seemingly innocuous chicken meal tops out at 1,710 calories.

                                          Change Your Chicken: 20 McNuggets have the same impact. Instead, choose Mickey D's six-piece offering with BBQ sauce and save yourself 530 calories.

                                          19: Worst drink
                                          Jamba Juice Chocolate Moo'd Power Smoothie (30 fl oz)
                                          # 900 calories 10 g fat
                                          # 183 g carbs (166 g sugar)

                                          Jamba Juice calls it a smoothie; we call it a milk shake. In fact, this beverage contains as much sugar as 2 pints of Ben & Jerry's butter pecan ice cream.

                                          Turn Down the Power: Seventy-five percent of this chain's "power smoothies" contain in excess of 100 grams of sugar. Stick to Jamba's lower-calorie All Fruit Smoothies, which are the only menu items that contain no added sugar. And always opt for the 16-ounce "small."

                                          18: Worst supermarket meal
                                          Pepperidge Farm Roasted Chicken Pot Pie (whole pie)
                                          # 1,020 calories 64 g fat
                                          # 86 g carbs

                                          The label may say this pie serves two, but who ever divided a small pot pie in half? The sad truth is, once you crack the crust, there will be no stopping -- which makes this 300 calories worse than anything else you'll find in the freezer case.

                                          Pick a Better Pie: Swanson's chicken pot pie has just 400 calories.

                                          17: Worst 'healthy' burger
                                          Ruby Tuesday Bella Turkey Burger
                                          # 1,145 calories 71 g fat
                                          # 56 g carbs

                                          We chose this burger for more than its calorie payload: Its name implies that it's healthy.

                                          The Truly Healthy Choice: Skip burgers entirely (few at Ruby Tuesday come in under 1,000 calories). Instead, order a 9-ounce sirloin with a side of steamed vegetables, and keep things under 1,000 calories.

                                          16: Worst Mexican entree
                                          Chipotle Mexican Grill Chicken Burrito
                                          # 1,179 calories 47 g fat
                                          # 125 g carbs
                                          # 2,656 milligrams (mg) sodium

                                          Despite a reputation for using healthy, fresh ingredients, Chipotle's menu is limited to king-size burritos, overstuffed tacos, and gigantic salads -- all of which lead to a humongous waistline.

                                          Make Over the Menu: There are two ways to Men's Healthify a burrito at Chipotle: (1) 86 the rice and tortilla and request your meat, vegetables, and beans served in a bowl or (2) bring a friend and saw the burrito in half.

                                          15: Worst kids' meal
                                          Macaroni Grill Double Macaroni 'n' Cheese
                                          # 1,210 calories 62 g fat
                                          # 3,450 mg sodium

                                          It's like feeding your kid 1 1/2 boxes of Kraft mac 'n' cheese.

                                          Your Best Option: The 390-calorie Grilled Chicken and Broccoli.

                                          14: Worst sandwich
                                          Quiznos Classic Italian (large)
                                          # 1,528 calories 92 g fat
                                          # 4,604 mg sodium 110 g carbs

                                          A large homemade sandwich would more likely provide about 500 calories.

                                          Cut the Calories: Isn't it obvious? Order a small -- or save half for later.

                                          13: Worst salad
                                          On the Border Grande Taco Salad with Taco Beef
                                          # 1,450 calories 102 g fat
                                          # 78 g carbs 2,410 mg sodium

                                          This isn't an anomaly: Five different On the Border salads on the menu contain more than 1,100 calories each.

                                          The Salad for You: The Sizzling Chicken Fajita Salad supplies an acceptable 760 calories. But remember to choose a noncaloric beverage, such as water or unsweetened iced tea.

                                          12: Worst burger
                                          Carl's Jr. Double Six Dollar Burger
                                          # 1,520 calories
                                          # 111 g fat

                                          Carl's Jr. brags that it's home to this enormous sandwich, but the restaurant chain also provides convenient nutrition info on its Web site -- so ignorance is no excuse for eating it.

                                          A Simple Solution: The Low Carb Six Dollar Burger has just 490 calories.

                                          11: Worst steak
                                          Lonestar 20 oz T-bone
                                          # 1,540 calories
                                          # 124 g fat

                                          Add a baked potato and Lonestar's Signature Lettuce Wedge, and this is a 2,700-calorie blowout.

                                          Choose with Your Head: The golden rule of steak restaurants is this: Limit yourself to a 9-ouncer or smaller. After all, that's more than half a pound of meat. You won't walk away hungry.

                                          10: Worst breakfast
                                          Bob Evans Caramel Banana Pecan Cream Stacked and Stuffed Hotcakes

                                          # 1,540 calories
                                          # 77 g fat (9 g trans fat)
                                          # 198 g carbs (109 g sugar)

                                          Five Egg McMuffins yield the same caloric cost as this stack of sugar-stuffed flapjacks, which is truly a heavy breakfast, weighing in at a hefty pound and a half.

                                          Order This Instead: A Bob Evans Western Omelet starts your day with a reasonable 654 calories and 44 grams of muscle-building protein.

                                          9: Worst dessert
                                          Chili's Chocolate Chip Paradise Pie with Vanilla Ice Cream
                                          # 1,600 calories
                                          # 78 g fat
                                          # 215 g carbs

                                          Would you eat a Big Mac for dessert? How about three? That's the calorie equivalent of this decadent dish. Clearly, Chili's customers get their money's worth.

                                          Don't Overdo It: If you want dessert at Chili's, order one single-serving Sweet Shot; you'll cap your after-dinner intake at 310 calories.

                                          8: Worst Chinese entree
                                          P.F. Chang's Pork Lo Mein
                                          # 1,820 calories
                                          # 127 g fat
                                          # 95 g carbs

                                          The fat content in this dish alone provides more than 1,100 calories. And you'd have to eat almost five servings of pasta to match the number of carbohydrates it contains. Now, do you really need five servings of pasta?

                                          Pick Another Noodle: P.F. Chang's Singapore Street Noodles will satisfy your craving with only 570 calories. Or try the Moo Goo Gai Pan or the Ginger Chicken & Broccoli, which have 660 calories each.

                                          7: Worst chicken entree
                                          Chili's Honey Chipotle Crispers with Chipotle Sauce
                                          # 2,040 calories
                                          # 99 g fat
                                          # 240 g carbs

                                          "Crispers" refers to an extra-thick layer of bread crumbs that soaks up oil and adds unnecessary calories and carbs to these glorified chicken strips.

                                          Switch Your Selection: Order the Chicken Fajita Pita: At 450 calories and 43 grams of protein, it's one of the healthiest entrées you'll find in a chain restaurant.

                                          6: Worst fish entree
                                          On the Border Dos XX Fish Tacos with Rice and Beans
                                          # 2,100 calories
                                          # 130 g fat
                                          # 169 g carbs 4,750 mg sodium

                                          Perhaps the most misleadingly named dish in America: A dozen crunchy tacos from Taco Bell will saddle you with fewer calories.

                                          Lighten the Load: Ask for grilled fish, choose the corn tortillas instead of flour (they're lower in calories and higher in fiber), and swap out the carbohydrate-loaded rice for grilled vegetables.

                                          5: Worst pizza
                                          Uno Chicago Grill Chicago Classic Deep Dish Pizza
                                          # 2,310 calories
                                          # 162 g fat
                                          # 123 g carbs
                                          # 4,470 mg sodium

                                          Downing this "personal" pizza is equivalent to eating 18 slices of Domino's Crunchy Thin Crust cheese pizza.

                                          Swap Your Slices: Switch to the Sausage Flatbread Pie and avert deep-dish disaster by nearly 1,500 calories.

                                          4: Worst pasta
                                          Macaroni Grill Spaghetti and Meatballs with Meat Sauce
                                          # 2,430 calories
                                          # 128 g fat
                                          # 207 g carbs
                                          # 5,290 mg sodium

                                          This meal satisfies your calorie requirements for an entire day.

                                          Downsize the Devastation: Ask for a lunch portion of this dinner dish (or any pasta on the menu, for that matter), and request regular tomato sauce instead of meat sauce. You'll cut the calories in half.

                                          3: Worst nachos
                                          On the Border Stacked Border Nachos
                                          # 2,740 calories
                                          # 166 g fat
                                          # 191 g carbs
                                          # 5,280 mg sodium

                                          2: Worst starter
                                          Chili's Awesome Blossom
                                          # 2,710 calories
                                          # 203 g fat
                                          # 194 g carbs
                                          # 6,360 mg sodium

                                          1: The worst food in America
                                          Outback Steakhouse Aussie Cheese Fries with Ranch Dressing
                                          # 2,900 calories
                                          # 182 g fat
                                          # 240 g carbs

                                          Even if you split these "starters" with three friends, you'll have downed a dinner's worth of calories before your entrée arrives.

                                          1. re: ML8000

                                            Thanks for posting ML8000 - nice to see what everyone's talking about. And: YIKES!


                                            1. re: ML8000

                                              Re Ruby Tuesday: A TURKEY BURGER with 71 g fat? Holy moley!

                                              I also am happy to say that I've never consumed any of these, and haven't been to any of these establishments in years.

                                          2. Fascinating, disgusting reading. It's interesting and slightly heartening to see some Americans coming to tentative grips with obesity as a national health issue, when our problem has been apparent outside the US for many years. I really enjoyed broaching the subject when I spent most of my time traveling abroad on business 10-20 years ago. Once an American gave them permission to discuss it, locals would go on endlessly with horror about how fat Americans were, how easy we were to spot.

                                            Now, of course, we've managed to export our disease; other cultures are beginning to catch up. It remains unfunny how persistently oblivious many Americans remain to the problem. I definitely believe the recent study that contends that obesity is catching; if your friends and family are terribly overweight, you're more inclined to just get used to it after a while, see it as normative, and as a result let yourself go.

                                            I admire Garry Trudeau for tackling the subject with satire. This piece immediately reminded me of his recent cartoon: www.doonesbury.com/strip/dailydose/in...

                                            2 Replies
                                            1. re: MC Slim JB

                                              Actually, the Doonesbury cartoon I was trying to cite was this one:


                                              1. re: MC Slim JB

                                                That makes a lot more sense! I wondered where you were coming from with the first one!

                                            2. There is only one thing on this list that I have ever eaten and that is the Pepperidge Farms Chicken pot pie. Man, it is so good! I KNOW it's not healthy, but it is a treat, and I only eat half and save the other half for the next day. Swanson's may be healthier, but pales in taste comparison. But it sure is a lot cheaper! Oh, and the swanson's is half the size of the PF, so I wonder if that would change the numbers. I'll have to look.

                                              Smoothies are a real sneaky item, to me. I once was trying to lose weight and made my own smoothies thinking how healthy they were. I did not lose any weight, even though I used skim milk, a FOY smoothie packet to make them, and lots of fresh fruit. My friend told me that I was fooling myself if I thought all that fruit was lo-cal, and she was right!