March 22, 2001
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Food Courts: Fattening Americans as They Shop|
WASHINGTON - Where can you find an order of french fries with almost 1,000 calories, a slice
of pizza with a days worth of artery-clogging fat, or a cup of coffee with 600 calories?
At just about any shopping mall, airport, sports arena, or other food court in the country,
according to the April issue of Nutrition Action Healthletter published by the nonprofit Center for
Science in the Public Interest (CSPI). CSPI gained notoriety as the Food Police for revealing the
high calorie and fat content of theater popcorn and many other restaurant meals.
The report surveyed a sampling of menu items served at a bakers dozen leading food-court chains, including Sbarro, The Great Steak & Potato Company, Panda Express, Starbucks
Coffee, Mrs. Fields, and TCBY. Their foods are similar to whats served at many malls around
the country. (CSPI obtained most of the nutrition information from the chains themselves, though
it analyzed several items.) Some of the offerings are excellent, but others would make a
cardiologists cash register light up:
- Schlotzskys Delis Large Original sandwich (made with three types each of meat and
cheese) has about 1,300 calories, 50 grams of fat (25 of them saturated), and 4,400 milligrams of
sodium. For most people, thats two-thirds of a days calories, one days artery-clogging saturated
fat, and two days sodium. Think of it as three McDonalds Quarter Pounders.
- Starbucks venti (20-ounce) White Chocolate Mocha made with whole milk has 600
calories and three-quarters of a days saturated fat. Its a milk shake, not a cup of coffee.
- Sbarros Baked Ziti or one slice of Sausage & Pepperoni Stuffed Pizza has more than
800 calories and an entire days worth of saturated fat.
- The Great Steak & Potato Companys large Fresh Cut Fries has more than 900
calories. Add a large Great Steak sandwich and your meal would contain over 2,000 calories,
100 grams (23 teaspoons) of fat, and a day-and-a-halfs worth of saturated fat.
- Mrs. Fields Peanut Butter Dreambar will give you 670 calories, 21 grams of saturated
fat, and 12 teaspoons of sugar. A single Milk Chocolate Chip Cookie with Walnuts has about
300 calories and nine grams of saturated fat about as much as a 12-ounce sirloin steak.
- At TCBY, a large Waffle Cone with yogurt, hot fudge, and M&Ms has 700 caloriesabout
the same as a McDonalds Big Mac and a small Coke. Gulping down a king-size Strawberry Hulk
at Smoothie King will add a whole days worth of calories (1,910) and fat (58 grams).
Its no wonder that more than half of all Americans are overweight, says Jayne Hurley,
senior nutritionist at CSPI. You can walk into a food court looking for a snack and walk out with
a meals worth of saturated fat and calories. Most people dont need an extra 1,000 calories hugging
their hips. And all that saturated fat and sodium promote heart disease.
But if you carefully step through the nutritional mine field, you can actually find some
delicious and pretty healthful foods, Hurley said. Among the best:
- Au Bon Pains Thai Chicken Sandwich, Honey Smoked Turkey Wrap Sandwich, Pesto
Chicken Salad, and Yogurt with Fresh Berries or (or with Granola)
- Smoothie Kings small Slim & Trim Smoothies or a Starbucks Cappuccino or Caffe
Latte with skim milk
- Panda Express single entree of Chicken with Mushrooms, Chicken with String Beans,
or Black Pepper Chicken served with steamed rice
- Schlotzskys line of Light and Flavorful sandwiches, such as the Pesto Chicken or Dijon
- TCBYs small cups or cones of frozen yogurt
Hurley said, Many chains know whats in the foods they serve. If the menu boards would
only list calories next to the price for each item, Americans would have a fighting chance of getting
home without gaining pounds.