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The Five Most Unhealthful Super Bowl Party Foods: Results

A Report from PCRM's Cancer Project
January 2009

Findings | Key Factors | Rating System/Detailed Results | References

Rating System

Items with the most points were ranked as the least healthful. Points were given if the menu item had the following:

  • Grilled meat/fish/poultry: 1 point for every grilled item
  • Processed meats: 1 point for every processed meat item
  • High-fat dairy: 1 point for every high-fat dairy item
  • 300 calories or more (1 point) or 400 calories or more (2 points)
  • 10 grams of fat or more (1 point) or 20 grams of fat or more (2 points)
  • 2.5 grams or more of saturated fat (1 point) or 5 grams or more of saturated fat
    (2 points)
  • Cholesterol: 1 point
  • Less than 3 grams of fiber: 1 point
  • 400 milligrams or more of sodium (1 point) or 1,000 milligrams or more of sodium
    (2 points)
  • No fruit or vegetable serving (tomato sauce does not count as a vegetable serving):
    1 point

Using these scores, Cancer Project dietitians then chose the five worst Super Bowl takeout or delivery items from the fast-food establishments. To break a tie between the Deep Dish MeatZZa Feast from Domino’s Pizza and the Meats Pan Crust Pizza from Papa John’s, these two items were further compared by ranking nutritional criteria—total fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, calories, and sodium—from highest to lowest. The Deep Dish MeatZZa Feast scored worse in every criterion, so dietitians named it the worst Super Bowl party food.

Detailed Results

All nutrient information is for a single serving of each item.

Deep Dish MeatZZa Feast (Domino’s Pizza)
Rank: Worst Super Bowl party food
Overall score: 15
430 calories, 22 grams of fat, 8.5 grams of saturated fat, 40 milligrams of cholesterol, 1,440 milligrams of sodium, 5 grams of fiber, no fruits or vegetables
Just one-eighth of the Dish MeatZZa Feast oozing with extra cheese contains 22 grams of artery-clogging fat and 8.5 grams of cancer-causing saturated fat. It’s also covered in pepperoni, ham, and sausage—all processed meats linked to increased risk of colorectal cancer. That same serving of the MeatZZA Feast also offers 1,440 milligrams of sodium—over half of the recommended daily maximum. Dietitians broke a tie between this item and the Meats Pan Crust Pizza from Papa John’s by further comparing nutritional criteria. The Deep Dish MeatZZa Feast scored worse in every criterion, so dietitians named it the worst Super Bowl party food.

The Meats Pan Crust Pizza (Papa John’s)
Rank: Second-worst Super Bowl party food
Overall score: 15
420 calories, 19 grams of fat, 8 grams of saturated fat, 30 milligrams of cholesterol, 1,140 milligrams of sodium, 1 gram of fiber, no fruits or vegetables
You’ll find more pig skin on this pizza than on the field on game day. Piled with pepperoni, sausage, bacon, and ham, the Meats Pan Crust Pizza has the most processed meat—which increases the risk of colorectal cancer—of the five worst Super Bowl party foods. It’s also high in calories and fat and contains 1,140 milligrams of sodium—nearly half the recommended daily maximum.

Creamy Chicken Alfredo Baked Tuscani Pasta (Pizza Hut)
Rank: Third-worst Super Bowl party food
Overall score: 12
633 calories, 33 grams of fat, 11 grams of saturated fat, 70 milligrams of cholesterol, 1,250 milligrams of sodium, 4 grams of fiber, no fruits or vegetables
One-fourth of an order of Creamy Chicken Alfredo Baked Tuscani Pasta has the most fat and saturated fat of any item in this report. This dish also includes grilled chicken, which contains PhIP, one of a group of carcinogenic compounds produced when meats are cooked at high temperatures, as in grilling or barbecuing. Alfredo sauce is usually made with butter, heavy cream and parmesan cheese. Incorporating high-fat dairy products into one’s diet can contribute to weight gain and increased risk of heart disease, some cancers, and other health complications.     

Tuna Melt (Quiznos)
Rank: Fourth-worst Super Bowl party food
Overall score: 8
375 calories, 27.75 grams of fat, 5.25 grams of saturated fat, 42.5 milligrams of cholesterol, 465 milligrams of sodium, 1.5 grams of fiber, fruits or vegetables
Half of a small tuna melt might sound pretty healthy to some people, but the mayo and cheddar cheese help load this sub down with 27.75 grams of fat, 5.25 grams of saturated fat, and 42.5 milligrams of cholesterol per serving. Moreover, fish consumption is already Americans’ primary source of exposure to mercury, a potent neurotoxin. Albacore tuna is one of the most polluted species, but all tuna poses risks.

Honey BBQ Wings (KFC)
Rank: Fifth-worst Super Bowl takeout or delivery food
Overall score: 6
180 calories, 10 grams of fat, 2 grams of saturated fat, 40 milligrams of cholesterol, 520 milligrams of sodium, 0 grams of fiber, no fruits or vegetables
KFC is “the official wing sponsor of the NFL” and the company’s Super Bowl commercial could not be more correct in bragging that the new Honey BBQ Wings “hit you in three ways.” Just two of these wings hit a consumer with 40 milligrams of heart-stopping cholesterol, 520 milligrams of high blood pressure-inducing sodium, and 0 grams of cancer-fighting fiber. Most football fans are likely to eat more than two wings during a four-hour-long football game.

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