Hardee's shapes up with turkey burger

hamburger, half eaten, bite, cheeseburger, stock, 4x3
hamburger, half eaten, bite, cheeseburger, stock, 4x3

(CBS) - In the fast-food world, this may qualify as extreme dieting.

The restaurant chain Hardee's is offering a sub-500-calorie turkey burger, the first fast-food company to make turkey a permanent part of the menu.

It's a pretty big change coming from a company that made headlines a few years ago with the "Monster Burger" - a 1,400-calorie behemoth once called "the fast-food equivalent of a snuff film" by a nutrition advocacy group.

"There's a shift in eating habits among young, hungry men," Andy Puzder, CEO of CKE Restaurants which owns Hardee's and Carl's Jr., told USA Today.

"They're still looking for indulgent foods, but they want them more healthful."

A plain turkey burger weighs in at 480 calories and 17 grams of fat, well below most of Hardee's burger choices. The "Original Thickburger" stands at 770 calories and 48 grams of fat.

"Turkey has a much lower fat content," Jo Ann Hattner, a nutritionist at Stanford University, told USA Today. "These guys should be applauded for their efforts."

In a country that continues to struggle with rising obesity rates, it may be too soon for applause. Puzder himself has been known to deride the movement for healthier food choices. As he sees it, this is simply another way of giving the customers what they want.

"It's not my job to tell people what to eat," Puzder said. "It's to find out what they want and serve it to them."