Have Restaurants Gone Too Far with the Unhealthy Offerings?

By , SparkPeople Blogger
When it comes to the healthfulness of menu items and information shared by restaurants, just think about how far we've come in just the last decade. Nutrition facts for most restaurant foods are available not just online, but on menu boards in many states. Happy Meals can be bought with apples and milk instead of fries and soda. And we're no longer limited to greasy burgers when we stop at a fast food joint: salads, yogurt parfaits, and even oatmeal are standard these days. Healthful options abound where once there were none!

Sometimes it seems like restaurants are listening to consumers who want healthier options. But are they taking two step backwards when they release items like the KFC's Double Down or promote the inclusion of a "fourth meal" in their commercials (as if we really need to eat more than we already do)?

This week I read about a new menu item from Friendly's, a burger that replaces the bun with TWO GRILLED CHEESE SANDWICHES for a reported 1,500 calories and 79 grams of fat. Have they gone completely mad?

I believe that these gluttonous creations are released for publicity. It seems that the bigger, greasier, and bad-for-you food a brand can conjure up, the more free press and attention they get. (And yes, I realize the irony of writing this blog, which certainly isn't helping matters.) That has to be a big reason why restaurants, especially struggling ones like KFC, take extreme measures to garner attention and boost sales. First KFC touts its 395-calorie meal for $3.95 (thumbs up!), and then a few months later, they released the Double Down (thumbs down).

Foods like these remind me of two comedy sketches that poke fun at just how far restaurants are willing to go to get attention and boost sales. These are so funny to me because there is a lot of truth in them.

"Taco Town" commercial from Saturday Night Live

"Domino's Scientists Test Limits of What Humans Will Eat" from The Onion

I admit that I struggle between wanting to share news like this with our readers (in a be-sure-to-avoid-it way) and saying nothing (so that I'm not contributing to their attention-seeking behavior). Sometimes, our desire to share the food news wins out, but other times, we keep mum. So tell me, readers: Do you like to hear about these types of foods or would you rather we all kept quiet and focused on the good things coming out of restaurants these days?