Thursday, January 10, 2008

JANUARY 10, 2008

Outback Steakhouse
Outback Steakhouse doesn't want you to know that the only nutritional information it provides is for its Tangy Tomato Dressing. When we contacted the company, a spokesperson claimed, "Ninety percent of our meals are prepared by hand...Any analysis would be difficult to measure consistently." Yet no fewer than 45 national chain restaurants do just that. (Hey, in case you were wondering, an order of Outback's Aussie Cheese Fries has 2,900 calories, and its Ayers Rock Strip has 60 grams of fat.)

Applebee's doesn't want you to know that many of its "low-fat" items have more than 500 calories. (In fact, its low-fat chicken quesadillas have 742 calories and 90 grams of carbohydrates per order.)

IHOP doesn't want you to know that its Omelette Feast has 1,335 calories and 35 grams of saturated fat. (By the time you finish eating this behemoth breakfast, you'll have consumed 150 percent of your daily fat requirement and 300 percent of your suggested cholesterol intake.) Said IHOP's director of communications, "We do not maintain nutritional data on our menu items, so I am unable to assist you."

Red Robin
Red Robin doesn't want you to know the nutritional impact of its gourmet burgers. "A gourmet burger starts by being an honest burger," Red Robin's Web site declares--but not, apparently, a burger that will come clean about its nutrition facts. When contacted, Red Robin's senior vice president responded that nutritional information for the menu would be available in October 2007. As of November, however, nutrition facts were still not posted on the site. Another public-relations representative e-mailed us to request this: "As this information is not yet public, can you please confirm that this will not be leaked?" Uh, no.

Arby's doesn't want you to know that the FDA has no definition of "all natural." Thus, chains like Arby's can say they serve "100 percent all-natural chicken," despite using artificial flavoring.

Burger King
Burger King doesn't want you to know that its French toast sticks (which deliver more than 4 grams of fat per stick) share a deep fryer with the pork sausage, pork fritters, Chicken Tenders, chicken fries, Big Fish patties, hash browns, onion rings, and Cheesy Tots--and that all of those items contain harmful trans fats. But there is hope: After the company was sued by the Center for Science in the Public Interest for moving too slowly to remove trans fats from its menu, Burger King promised to phase them out by the end of 2008.

Baskin-Robbins doesn't want you to know that, unlike Jamba Juice's all-fruit smoothies, the top four ingredients in its Blue Raspberry Fruit Blast are Sierra Mist soda, water, sugar, and corn syrup.

Sit-down chain restaurants
Sit-down chain restaurants don't want you to know that their food is actually considerably worse for you than the often-maligned fast-food fare. In fact, our menu analysis of 24 national chains revealed that the average entree at a sit-down restaurant contains 867 calories, compared with 522 calories in the average fast-food entree. And that's before appetizers, sides, or desserts--selections that can easily double your total calorie intake.

It's New Year's resolution season, which means, as far as I can tell, that you can get people to say all kinds of INSANE things about how badly they want to lose weight.

In a new poll by "Fitness" magazine, 21% of women... that's just over one out of five... say they would be willing to take a DECADE off their lives to be thin.

23% say they'd gladly spend a week in prison to be thin. Another 23% would shave their heads to be thin. And 85% would rather have an ELEVENTH TOE than an extra 50 pounds.