Extreme Eating Hard To Swallow

Two Hardee's Monster Thickburger packing 1,420 calories and 107 grams of fat are shown with a McDonald salad with chicken Tuesday, Nov. 30, 2004 in St. Louis. Hardees looks to beef up sales with it's new Monster Burger and a multimillin-dollar ad campaign. McDonald's, Wendy's and other rival fast-food giants are offering lower-calorie fare. AP

A consumer nutrition group that's found health risks in everything from Chinese food to movie theater popcorn now finds restaurant chains tough to swallow.

The Center for Science in the Public Interest says Uno Chicago Grill, for example, offers a pizza skins appetizer with more than 2,000 calories and 48 grams of fat.

The appetizer packs a whole days worth for the average adult, with the same amount of calories of three personal pan pizzas and three pats of butter, CBS News correspondent Sharyn Alfonsi reports.

A chocolate cake from the Cheesecake Factory serves up nearly 1,400 calories, the same as eating two quarter pounders and large fries.

In the CSPI report, executive director Michael Jacobson says table service restaurants "have launched into a whole new era of extreme eating."

"Burgers, pizzas, and quesadillas were never health foods to begin with, but many restaurants are transmogrifying these foods into ever-more harmful new creations, and then keeping you in the dark about what they contain," said Jacobson.

Read the report for more calorie tallies.
"Now we see lasagna with meatballs on top; ice cream with cookies, brownies, and candy mixed in; 'Ranchiladas,' bacon cheeseburger pizzas, buffalo-chicken-stuffed quesadillas, and other hybrid horribles that are seemingly designed to promote obesity, heart disease, and stroke," Jacobson said.

Next up: Ruby Tuesday's Fresh Chicken and Pasta. Sounds healthy? Not so much, Alfonsi reports. It clocks in at 2,060 calories and 128 grams of fat.

Jacobson calls the fresh chicken with pasta dinner at Ruby Tuesday "angioplasta."

A single scone at Starbucks has over a thousand calories.

Right now, you won't find any of those big numbers listed on the menu. That's what consumer advocates want to change. But sometimes, just a name is enough to set off a high-calorie warning. Take the Colossal Burger.

With 141 grams of fat, the burger is the equivalent of five Quarter Pounders.

Americans eat out on average about four meals a week, according to CSPI nutrition policy director Margo G. Wootan.

"Studies show that women who eat out more than five times a week eat 300 more calories per day on average than women who eat out less often," she said in the report.

Jacobson says these chains aren't being singled out; they represent the entire industry.

As for Ruby Tuesday, the chain's Richard Johnson said: "Nutrient information has been on packaged foods in grocery stores for years and during those years the rate of obesity hasn't gone down..."

CSPI wants federal legislation to require nutrition information on restaurant menus, at least the calories for each item, to help diners make healthy choices.
  • Alfonso Serrano

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