Physicians Group Presents Taco Bell with Social Irresponsibility Award
Unsavory Marketing of High-Cholesterol Items Earns Taco Bell SICK Classification
WASHINGTON—The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine–a nutrition advocacy group of more than 10,000 doctors–is slamming Taco Bell with the Social Irresponsibility towards Consumers and Kids (SICK) Award for the chain’s heavy-handed marketing of its new cholesterol-laden breakfast items—the A.M. Crunchwrap and the Waffle Taco.
Taco Bell’s sausage A.M. Crunchwrap weighs in at 710 calories, 14 grams of saturated fat, 46 grams of total fat, 135 mg of cholesterol, and 1,150 mg of sodium. This far exceeds the amounts most adults should consume in a single meal. The Waffle Taco is advertised as more of a novelty item, with Taco Bell attempting to follow up on the success of its Dorito taco shell.
Taco Bell has recently redirected its marketing efforts toward a young adult audience, despite the steady increase in obesity, diabetes, and hypertension rates in adolescents. In fact, studies have shown that adolescents often have the beginnings of atherosclerosis, or blocked arteries, and meals high in fat and cholesterol only hasten the progression of this condition.
“Breakfast is supposed to start you off on the right foot, not leave you with one foot in the grave,” says Cameron Wells, M.P.H., R.D., staff dietitian for the Physicians Committee. “It’s disappointing that a Mexican-style chain is making such an effort to promote unhealthful foods, when the base ingredients—beans, rice, and salsa—are appetizing and artery-friendly.”
Many of the menu items at Taco Bell are easily customizable, including the black bean burrito, which is available without cheese. However, Taco Bell has opted to feature items with dangerous levels of fat and cholesterol, rather than promote the “fresco style” customization that includes swapping cheese and sour cream for pico de gallo.
The Physicians Committee presents the SICK Award to companies that enact large marketing campaigns to promote unhealthful foods, which can harm consumers and worsen the epidemic of diet-related diseases.
Founded in 1985, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine is a nonprofit health organization that promotes preventive medicine, conducts clinical research, and encourages higher standards for ethics and effectiveness in research.