Five Amazingly Unhealthy Super Bowl Fast Foods

The Physicians Committee

Five Amazingly Unhealthy Super Bowl Fast Foods

A Report by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine
January 2012

Football fans may celebrate with pizza or chicken wings at their Super Bowl parties as they watch the New York Giants take on the New England Patriots. But dietitians with the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine say many partiers do not realize just how much fat, sodium, and cholesterol are packed into many popular Super Bowl snacks. High-fat, high-cholesterol diets increase the risk of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer.

Sports fans already face an elevated risk of heart attack while viewing stressful sporting events. Other research has found that a single fatty meal, like pizza or chicken wings, can raise blood pressure, stiffen major arteries, and cause the heart to beat harder. A 2008 study in the New England Journal of Medicine found that the number of heart attacks in one major city doubled during a big sports event. To help football fans make informed food choices, PCRM dietitians analyzed party-style foods advertised as Super Bowl fare.


PCRM dietitians evaluated heavily promoted Super Bowl food products and found that many contain astonishingly high levels of saturated fat, sodium, and cholesterol. Here are five shockingly unhealthful products:

Shocking Nutrition Facts about Five Unhealthy Super Bowl Foods
Food Source Nutrition Shocker
Large Classic Italian Sub Quiznos 3,550 milligrams of sodium—more than the amount in 13 single-serving bags of potato chips.
Crispy Bone-In Garlic Parmesan Wings with Blue Cheese Dipping Sauce Pizza Hut Just two wings with sauce have one and a half times the fat of a Big Mac.
The Meats Pizza for One Papa John’s More calories than six Twinkies.
Volcano Nachos Taco Bell More fat than half a stick of butter.
New England Clam Chowder Panera One serving contains more saturated fat than an entire package of bacon.


Super Bowl Sunday is the second-biggest food consumption day of the year in the United States, and fast-food companies are pushing fans to overindulge on wings, pepperoni pizza, and other high-fat fare. About 48 million Americans will get food to go from a restaurant to eat while they watch Super Bowl 46, according to the National Restaurant Association.

Fifty-four percent of fans will eat throughout the game, 12 percent will start snacking before the game, and 9 percent will load up their plate at kickoff, according to a recent survey. Their favorites include chicken wings and pizza. More than 1.25 billion chicken wings—more than 100 million pounds—will be consumed this Super Bowl weekend, according to the National Chicken Council.

Detailed Results

1. Quiznos Large Classic Italian Sub
1,190 calories, 68 grams of fat, 27 grams of saturated fat, 135 milligrams of cholesterol, 3,550 milligrams of sodium
Ham, salami, pepperoni, capicola, and mozzarella cram this sub with more sodium, calories, fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol than any other item in the report. It’s laced with 3,550 milligrams of sodium—more than can be found in 13 large single-serving bags of Lay’s potato chips. That’s more than double the amount of sodium most people should consume in an entire day, according to the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

2. Pizza Hut Crispy Bone-In Garlic Parmesan Wings with Blue Cheese Dipping Sauce
Two wings with 1.5 ounce dipping sauce: 530 calories, 49 grams of fat, 9.5 grams of saturated fat, 65 milligrams of cholesterol, 1,150 milligrams of sodium
Just two of these wings with dipping sauce contain one and a half times the fat and the same amount of calories as a Big Mac. About one-third of adults and 12.5 million children and adolescents are obese. Obesity is a major cause of death, attributable to heart disease, cancer, and diabetes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

3. Papa John’s The Meats Pizza for One
960 calories, 44 grams of fat, 18 grams of saturated fat, 100 milligrams of cholesterol, 2,760 milligrams of sodium
The Meats pizza has more calories than six Twinkies. It is also piled high with processed meats, including pepperoni, sausage, hickory-smoked bacon, and ham. Consuming processed meats increases the risk of colorectal cancer, according to a large number of studies, including the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) study. Processed meats also increase the risk of pancreatic cancer, according to a new meta-analysis in the British Journal of Cancer.

4. Taco Bell Volcano Nachos
980 calories, 60 grams of fat, 9 grams of saturated fat, 45 milligrams of cholesterol, 1,590 milligrams of sodium
These nachos are erupting with nacho cheese sauce, cheesy molten hot lava sauce, and ground beef. The average American consumed 3.8 pounds of cheese per year in 1909. Today, it’s 34 pounds per person, per year. Cheese is the number-one source of saturated (“bad”) fat, which increases the risk of heart disease and diabetes, in the American diet.

5. Panera New England Clam Chowder
630 calories, 54 grams of fat, 35 grams of saturated fat, 140 milligrams of cholesterol, 890 milligrams of sodium
Patriot fans aren’t the only ones who should steer clear of this clam chowder loaded with cream, butter, and sea clams. One serving contains 35 grams of saturated fat—more saturated fat than an entire 10-serving package of Oscar Mayer bacon. That’s 50 percent of calories from saturated fat. The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend that less than 10 percent of calories should come from saturated fat. Shellfish such as clams are also a significant source of cholesterol.