Chain bucks health trends with 1,200-calorie burgers

While some fast-food chains are earning kudos (and increased sales) for lighter sandwiches and salads, the Hardee’s chain seems stuck in the past, according to the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI). In fact, in the December issue of its Nutrition Action Healthletter, CSPI is calling Hardee’s prehistoric line of Thickburgers “Food Porn.” The new burgers, which come in 1/3-pound, 1/2-pound, and 2/3-pound payloads, make Quarter Pounders, Big Macs, and even some Whoppers seem downright dainty by comparison, says CSPI.

“Hardee’s seems not only oblivious to America’s obesity epidemic, but also to the trend toward healthier fast food,” said CSPI executive director Michael F. Jacobson. “To those who say we don’t need calorie counts on menu boards, I say, ‘Have you met the Thickburger?’”

The smallest Thickburger has 740 calories and 16 grams of saturated fat—roughly double that of a Quarter Pounder. A Monster Thickburger has two patties, three slices of cheese, and four strips of bacon, for a total of 1,200 calories and 34 grams—almost two days’ worth—of saturated fat.

“A good rule of thumb is that if a burger needs a comma in its calorie count, it’s virtually impossible to fit into a healthy diet,” Jacobson said.

Food Porn is a regular back-page feature on CSPI’s Nutrition Action Healthletter, which is best known for its groundbreaking studies of various restaurant foods. With more than 800,000 subscribers in the U.S. and Canada, Nutrition Action is the largest circulation health and nutrition newsletter in North America.