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Easy-on-the-Wallet 'Value Meals' Are Hard on Health

Value Menu meals from five national fast-food chains including Jack in the Box and McDonald’s top the list of unhealthful menu items that are causing a significant cost to public health—including obesity and cancer—according to the report “Cheap Eats for Hard Times: The Five Most Unhealthful Fast Food Value Menu Items” by The Cancer Project.

Jack in the Box's high-fat Junior Bacon Cheeseburger is the most unhealthful Value Menu item served by a major national fast-food chain, according to the new analysis by The Cancer Project. McDonald’s new $1 McDouble sandwich and Taco Bell’s 89 cent Cheesy Double Beef Burrito are among the other items singled out in the report.

Man Contemplating BurgerTo compile the report, dietitians reviewed nutrition information for items on the Value Menus of five national fast-food chains. The five most unhealthful items were ranked from worst to least bad. Jack in the Box’s Junior Bacon Cheeseburger, a $1 sandwich with a hamburger patty and hefty helpings of cheese and mayo-onion sauce, topped the list because it has 23 grams of fat, 860 milligrams of sodium, and bacon, a processed meat associated with increased colorectal cancer risk.

The report—which was covered by CNN, CBS’s The Early Show, The New York Times, and The Wall Street Journal—found that most items on Value Menus are high in fat, saturated fat, calories, and cholesterol, and many also contain processed meats and grilled meats, which are linked to increased cancer risk.

“Dollar menus might be easy on the wallet, but these high-fat fast foods can be really hard on your health,” says The Cancer Project staff dietitian Krista Haynes, R.D., L.D. “People looking for food bargains can cut their risk of heart disease and cancer by steering clear of cheeseburgers and choosing low-fat vegetarian meals. A bean burrito with tomatoes is cheap, and a steady diet of them won’t land you in the hospital.”

Rank

Worst Value Menu Item

Fast-Food Restaurant

1

Junior Bacon Cheeseburger

Jack in the Box

2

Cheesy Double Beef Burrito

Taco Bell

3

Breakfast Sausage Biscuit

Burger King

4

McDouble

McDonald’s

5

Jr. Bacon Cheeseburger

Wendy’s

Read the complete Cheap Eats Report.



 

PCRM Online, January 2009

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