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.
Life & Style blogs
Charlie Charlie Challenge: everyone on the internet thinks it’s a marketing stunt, but it probably isn’t
Not brushing your teeth can lead to dementia and heart disease
Insomnia could be cured with one simple therapy session, new study claims
What do the emojis on Snapchat mean?
Spanish restaurant El Celler de Can Roca reclaims top spot to be named world's best restaurant
- 1 Amber Peat: Body found in search for missing 13-year-old who ran away after argument with her parents
- 2 California man brutally beat 82-year-old Sikh grandfather he mistook for 'one of those people'
- 3 Gay teenager 'forced to have sex with his own mother' to 'cure' his homosexuality, campaigners in India say
- 4 Charles Kennedy 'had better judgement drunk than many sober politicians' says Ian Hislop
- 5 Fifa corruption: Qatar says investigations are racist, anti-Arab and show 'ugly face' of countries who lost 2022 World Cup bid
Competitive salary & benefits: MBDA UK Ltd: Whats the opportunity? A pro-act...
Competitive salary & benefits: MBDA UK Ltd: Whats the opportunity? The small...
£23000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company has over 40 years ...
£9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This high quality thread manufacturer is curr...