Special Report

Fast-Food Chains with the Most Unhealthy Customers

4. Burger King
> Unhappy/totally unhappy customers: 21.5%
> Exercise regularly: 36.0%
> Watching calorie intake: 26.6%
> Watching fat intake: 32.4%
> Watching carbohydrate intake: 19.7%

The demographics of the diners who frequent Burger King are unique in two major ways. A majority of restaurant’s customers — 58.6% — are men, the highest of all fast food chains. Also, the restaurant is frequented by customers with the lowest average annual income among fast-food chains, at $52,958. Burger King’s customers watch their caloric intake the least among major fast-food chains, at just 26.6%. Only 32.4% of the restaurant’s customers watch their fat intake, the second lowest percentage. The company has made efforts to provide healthier menu items over the past year, as an attempt to expand its customer base. It continues to offer fattening classics, however, such as the 1,140-calorie Triple Whopper.

3. Wendy’s
> Unhappy/totally unhappy customers: 22.1%
> Exercise regularly: 40.2%
> Watching calorie intake: 37.2%
> Watching fat intake: 38.1%
> Watching carbohydrate intake: 25.4%

According to the report, 22.1% of Wendy’s (NASDAQ: WEN) regular customers are either unhappy or very unhappy with their health. About 40% exercise regularly. The average household income of a frequent Wendy’s customer is $60,468, the second-highest of the eight major fast-food chains, behind only Chick-fil-A. Just 22.6% of the restaurant’s frequent customers are single adults, second-lowest behind Arby’s in this category. Wendy’s offers healthy choices, including apple slices and salads. Even the salads, however, can be unhealthy, with high sodium and saturated fat.

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2. Taco Bell
> Unhappy/totally unhappy customers: 22.7%
> Exercise regularly: 40.3%
> Watching calorie intake: 33.9%
> Watching fat intake: 31.0%
> Watching carbohydrate intake: 19.0%

Taco Bell’s customers have the lowest rank in a number of health-related metrics measured by BIGinsight. Less than 31% of the customers report that they watch their fat intake, and only 19% watch their carbohydrate intake. The restaurant is second-worst when it comes to customers watching their calorie intake, as well as their salt/sodium intake. There are ways to eat healthily at Taco Bell. By ordering items “Fresco Style,” the sauce and cheese are exchanged for a “fiesta salsa.” Many items frequently considered healthy, such as salads, are among the restaurant’s highest-calorie items.

1. McDonald’s
> Unhappy/totally unhappy customers: 24%
> Exercise regularly: 34.8%
> Watching calorie intake: 34.1%
> Watching fat intake: 33.2%
> Watching carbohydrate intake: 21.7%

Except for Chick-fil-A, none of the fast-food restaurants skew so heavily female, with women representing 56% of the company’s regular customers. An alarming 24% of the chain’s frequent customers report being either unhappy or very unhappy with their health. Almost 30% of the restaurant’s regular customers report avoiding all the healthy habits measured by BIGinsight: watching calories, fat, salt or carbohydrate intake, or exercising regularly. This compares to 20% nationwide who report avoiding these healthy habits. McDonald’s (NYSE: MCD) has attempted to improve its image in recent years. It has begun automatically including apple slices and reducing the size of the fries in every happy meal.

Charles B. Stockdale

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