Fast-food 'healthy options' still full of fat and salt

Healthy options offered by burger and pizza chains are still stuffed with salt and fat despite menu changes.

An investigation of the food sold by the "big four" - McDonald's, Burger King, KFC and Pizza Hut - found that 17 of 20 products were high in salt or saturated fat or both. Of those, five out of eight of the salads used as "evidence" of their embrace of healthy eating had "high" salt or fat content.

On average, the fast-food meals sampled by Which? had 274 calories per 100g of food, more than double that of a home-cooked roast dinner. And there were inaccuracies in the nutritional information provided by three of the companies.

McDonald's website claimed that a Big Mac and medium fries had 786 calories but analysis showed it had 900. Burger King's Whopper and regular fries had 19 grams of saturated fat, rather than the 13 grams claimed. Levels of saturated fat in KFC's Zinger crunchy salad were almost treble the company estimate.

Obesity has tripled in England since 1980. A third of children aged two to 15 are overweight or obese. Which? said that although fast food was not solely to blame, the rise in weight had been accompanied by the rise in fast-food sales.

Researchers said the chains frequently targeted children in promotions by giving away toys or goodie bags. Many used children's characters such as Mr Men, Postman Pat, Winnie the Pooh and My Little Pony.

Which?found the popularity of fast-food outlets was related to their advertising budgets. Researchers also analysed nutritional content. Burger King fries were only 86 per cent potato; the 11 other ingredients included partially-hydrogenated vegetable oil, rice flour, dextrose, corn syrup solids and salt. McDonald's chicken grills contained 19 other ingredients. McDonald's and Burger King's cheddar slices included "cheese flavouring", trisodium citrate, diphosphates, polyphosphates and sorbic acid.

Some of the fast-food meals scored astronomical calorific counts. A Big Mac, medium fries and small vanilla milkshake contained 1,169 calories. A diner would need to walk 16 miles to work that off. Which? said: "Nearly all the fast food we tested contained a lot of salt. And salt can lurk where you least expect it. The KFC original chicken salad contains more salt than the KFC chicken fillet burger."

A Pizza Hut margherita pan pizza and garlic bread had 5.4 grams of salt, almost the entire recommended daily allowance of 6 grams.

The companies said their menus now had more variety. Pizza Hut said it gave customers "the choice of healthy or more indulgent food". McDonald's said its customers visited on average just two or three times a month.

Tim Lang, professor of food policy at City University, said: "The food industry knows there is evidence of a health problem which it is part of, but it likes to claim it has nothing to do with it."

Which? wants to ban television advertisements for fast-food aimed at children, saying such "aggressive but sophisticated" marketing was irresponsible.

ebooks
ebookA delicious collection of 50 meaty main courses
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Guru Careers: Software Engineer / Software Developer

    £40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software Engineer / Softw...

    Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey/ South West London

    £22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

    Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey / South West London

    £22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

    Ashdown Group: Recruitment Consultant / Account Manager - Surrey / SW London

    £40000 per annum + realistic targets: Ashdown Group: A thriving recruitment co...

    Day In a Page

    Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

    Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

    Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

    Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
    China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

    China's influence on fashion

    At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
    Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

    The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

    Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
    Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

    Rainbow shades

    It's all bright on the night
    'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

    Bread from heaven

    Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
    Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

    How 'the Axe' helped Labour

    UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
    Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

    The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

    A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
    'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

    Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

    Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

    The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
    Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

    Vince Cable exclusive interview

    Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
    Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

    Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

    Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
    Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

    It's time for my close-up

    Meet the man who films great whites for a living
    Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

    Homeless people keep mobile phones

    A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before