Oh, that calorie count / edward stojakovic

August 2, 2016; U.S. News & World Report

I remember quite clearly walking away from a scone near Grand Central Station because the establishment had the calorie count displayed. Talk about an effective preventive measure!

On Monday, the Center for Science in the Public Interest, a nonprofit addressing nutrition and food safety and an advocate of calorie count labeling in restaurants, released its 9th annual “Xtreme Eating” awards list, and it is illuminating if you are tempted by such stuff as the Whole Hog Burger from Uno Pizzeria & Grill and the Fried Chicken & Waffles Benedict at the Cheesecake Factory. The first proudly boasts an astounding 2,850 calories, 62 grams of saturated fat, and 9,790 milligrams of sodium. The waffle with fried chicken strips, poached eggs, and Hollandaise sauce, served with maple-butter syrup and a side of breakfast potatoes, offers a more modest 2,580 calories, 86 grams saturated fat, and 3,390 milligrams sodium.

Oh my!

Awards have also gone to Dave & Busters, Magginano’s Little Italy, Applebee’s, Sonic, Romano’s Macaroni Grill, Buffalo Wild Wings, and Jersey Mike’s Subs.

But soon you will not need a nonprofit to tell you such stuff, since a new FDA regulation will require that restaurants and food service businesses with 20 or more locations provide calorie information labels on menus, starting in May of 2017. This is of course the end game in which this xtreme eating contest is a very effective attention getter.

“But these chains in the Xtreme Eating report don’t need to wait until May to list calories on their menus,” said Lindsay Moyer, senior nutritionist at the center. Many restaurant chains, including McDonald’s, Starbucks, and Panera Bread, already list calories on their menu boards, she added. “Keep in mind that these nine items may be extreme, but any time you walk into a restaurant, expect at least 1,000 calories in a typical appetizer, entree, or dessert.”

To select the winners of this dubious award, the Center for Science in the Public Interest collected menus and nutrition facts provided by 200 U.S. restaurant chains. Knowledge is power. —Ruth McCambridge