Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Anti-health food: Your window to weight gain

There's a wonderful episode of 'The Simpsons' where Homer effectively gains enough weight to go on work disability.

To do so, he resorts to everything from buying an industrial-sized tub of lard to eating Maggie's Play-Doh doughnuts. The episode ends with Homer becoming an overweight shut-in who wears a mumu and nearly blows up the town.

So what does this have to do with anything? Well, after seeing the the commercial for KFC's new Double Down "sandwich" (pictured right), my initial thought was: "This seems like the kind of sandwich Homer would've invented to be his 'window to weight gain.'"

On the surface, the Double Down seems like a completely ridiculous idea, doesn't it? Two slabs of fried chicken instead of a bun with bacon, cheese and sauce? Shouldn't they call something like this "The Artery Clogger?" Why would anybody want to eat this unless they have some kind of death wish?

Give KFC credit though: They know how to generate a buzz. Critiques have been rampant about the sandwich, ranging from outright horror to the consideration that it might be an acceptable low-carb alternative (remember, no bread). While most news sources aren't exactly praising the Double Down as a revolutionary fast food item, they are talking about it.

The sandwich also isn't any worse than some of it's fast food counterparts. The Double Down checks in at 540 calories and 32 grams of fat (460 and 26 respectively for the grilled version). By comparison, a Whopper from Burger King has 670 calories and 40 grams of fat, while a Big Mac from McDonalds has 540 calories and 29 grams of fat. The sodium is the real killer in the Double Down, with 1,380 mg in the fried version of it and 1,430 in the grilled version. The recommended daily intake of sodium is between 1,500 and 2,300.

If the Double Down weren't enough, IHOP got in on the anti-health food act with release of cheesecake pancakes. Essentially, it's two pancakes with cheesecake in the middle. The current calorie counts on the breakfast chain's new dessert (just the pancakes and cheesecake with no other sides) are relatively modest: 520 calories and 21 grams of fat. But the amount of carbohydrates (74 g) and sugars (71 g) in it doesn't scream "healthy eating habits."

I won't go off on a rant about how items like these are contributing to our nation's obesity. Save that for the President's State of the Union address. However, I will say that it doesn't exactly help either.

Fast food on a regular basis is bad enough for you as it is, and items like these only take it a step further. Rather than throwing dietary caution to the wind, you are instead shooting it out of a cannon.

I'm not sure what the next extreme fast food concoction (deep-fried chili cheese fries maybe?) will be. But one thing's for sure: Homer definitely would've approved of it as a "window to weight gain."

God help our arteries.

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