Fast food is a big part of the American diet. People in the United States spend millions of dollars a year eating and drinking at fast food establishments. The biggest chain, in terms of sales, is McDonald’s, which reported a revenue of over $21 billion in 2018. More than a third of Americans eat fast food on any given day, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
We live in an era of more for less, and more food for less money is very common in fast food restaurants. But some burgers, sandwiches, desserts, and even drinks that can be bought for as little as $3 are basically caloric monstrosities.
Some of these high-calorie foods are rich in other ingredients no doctor will say you should consume in abundance, like sugar, sodium, and fat. Many of the least healthy items on fast food menus contain nearly the entire daily recommended intake of calories, sodium, and sugar. The estimated daily calorie need for moderately active adult men is 2,600 and for women it is 2,000.
The recommended daily limit for salt is 2,300 mg (ideally 1,500 mg), according to the American Heart Association. And for sugar, the recommended limit is 25 grams (6 teaspoons) for women and 38 grams (9 teaspoons) for men per day.
The amount of these ingredients in fast food items is often off the charts, and people are probably better off looking at them rather than eating them. Find out the unhealthiest item in every fast-food chain in America.
To identify the fast food items with the most calories, 24/7 Tempo reviewed the nutritional content of every food item on the menus of about 20 fast food restaurant chains in the United States. Only food items intended for single individuals were considered. McDonald’s 40-piece Chicken McNuggets, for example, was excluded. Of food items that are the same but come in different sizes, we only considered the one with the highest amount of calories.