Americans who take advantage of larger sizes for just a few pennies more when eating out may be getting more calories than they bargain for, according to a new report by a coalition of health organizations. The report found that the food industry's "value marketing" encourages overeating and contributes to the skyrocketing rates of obesity in adults and children.
"Americans are constantly induced to spend a little more money to get a lot more food," said Margo Wootan, director of nutrition policy at the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI). "Getting more for your money is ingrained in the American psyche. But bigger is rarely better when it comes to food."
From Wallet To Waistline: The Hidden Costs of Super Sizing, was issued by the National Alliance for Nutrition and Activity (NANA), a coalition of over 225 national, state and local health organizations. The report compares the price, calories, and saturated fat in differently sized foods from fast-food chains, convenience stores, ice cream parlors, coffee shops, and movie theaters. Among the findings:
Upgrading from a 3-ounce Minibon to a Classic Cinnabon costs only 24% more, yet delivers 123% more calories. The larger size also provides almost three-quarters of a day's worth of artery-clogging saturated fat.
Switching from 7-Eleven's Gulp to a Double Gulp costs 42% more, but provides 300% more calories. Those 37 extra cents deliver 450 extra calories-more than you'd get in a McDonald's Quarter Pounder.
It costs 8 cents more to purchase a McDonald's Quarter Pounder with Cheese, small French fries, and small Coke (890 calories) separately than to buy the Quarter Pounder with Cheese large Extra Value Meal, which comes with a large fries and large Coke (1,380 calories). "McDonald's actually charges customers more to buy a smaller, lower-calorie meal," Wootan said.
Moving from a small to a medium bag of movie theater popcorn costs about 71 cents-and 500 calories. A 23% increase in price provides 125% more calories and two days' worth of saturated fat. (And that's unbuttered popcorn!)