The Patriot In-Depth: You are what you eat

The Patriot drives-thru the unhealthy world of fast food and weights the options for the busy people held back by their full plate. See the image below for the full story.

Every second, McDonald’s, the top selling fast food company, sells 75 burgers worldwide. 6,480,000 are sold every day. 2,365,200,000 McDonald’s burgers are sold nationwide every year. If this just includes a regular hamburger which is 250 calories, 591,300,000,000 calories are sold every year.

According to the Huffington Post, “just one fast food meal can pack enough calories, sodium and fat for an entire day or more. Eating fast food on a regular basis can lead to a variety of different health problems including obesity.”

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services National Institutes of Health (NIH) conducted a multi-center study to determine whether weight gain, obesity, and diabetes are linked to the consumption of fast food.

According to Junior Margaret McGurik, she “hardly ever eats fast food.”

“I only eat it when I’m going on trips or long drives because it’s convinent,” she said.

After the study, the NIH had startling results.  “After 15 years, those who ate at fast food restaurants more than twice each week compared to less than once a week had gained an extra 10 pounds and had a two-fold greater increase in insulin resistance, a risk factor for type 2 diabetes. Diabetes is a major risk factor for heart disease,” according to

But not all fast food is unhealthy. It is true that many fast food restaurants serve food with extremely high calories, but some restaurants are becoming more aware of nutrition and are trying to have healthy alternatives.

If someone goes into McDonalds and buys an Angus Bacon & Cheeseburger, a medium fry, and a Coca-Cola, the calorie count is 1,180. But if someone buys a Premium Caesar Salad with Grilled Chicken without dressing, apple slices, and a water, it adds up to 205 calories.

At Burger King, a Triple Whopper Sandwich meal with French fries and a small fountain drink included is 1,550 calories and 1,570 milligrams of sodium, which is only 500 calories less than the recommended calorie count for a day. Although Burger King does not have many healthy alternatives, the Chicken Caesar Salad Wrap is 390 calories, but has 1,210 milligrams of sodium, which is still less healthy than alternatives at other restaurants.

Taco Bell is just as fat-filled and calorie stuffed as the next fast food restaurant. An XXL Grilled Stuft Burrito with beef is 880 calories, 370 calories from fat, and 42 grams of total fat. A healthier option at Taco Bell would be a Chicken Soft Taco, which is 170 calories, 50 calories from fat, and six grams of total fat.

Another big part of eating healthy is to drink water. “Most liquids that are consumed should be water and milk, with the occasional power drink,” health teacher Tess Gauthier said.

Liquids that are high in calories and sugar, like soda, are very unhealthy compared to water.  Although sodas have zero grams of fat, most sodas range from 100 to 170 calories and 30 to 50 grams of sugar, while water is zero calories and zero grams of sugar.

According to Gauthier, “It is all about picking the right meals and having a steady, healthy diet, even with fast foods. Maintaining a healthy diet, moderation, and a balance between what is good and bad is key.”

Meredith Haggerty is an In-Depth Editor for The Patriot and