The 20 Worst Foods in America

Restaurant food is bad for us. You may assume that anything you order at a drive-thru is less than sterling in a nutritional sense, but, in fact, the majority of what we eat at restaurants — even ones with helpful waiters and real tablecloths — is worse for us than we might ever imagine.
A study from the University of Arkansas that found the average diner in this country underestimates his or her caloric intake by up to 93 percent when eating out. Translation: Every time you eat at a restaurant, you're probably eating twice as much as you think.

The scariest part is that it isn't our fault. By expanding portion sizes, spiking our foods evermore with added sugars and dangerous fats, and slapping misleading labels on menus, the restaurant industry has made it nearly impossible for consumers to accurately gauge the caloric heft of, say, a plate of spaghetti and meatballs or a tropical fruit smoothie.
Some studies even show that nutritionists — the PhD-packing "experts" — can't get their calorie counts right. So how can you be expected to?

In researching our book "Eat This, Not That," and to help combat the problem and give people a better idea of how perilous a simple dinner out can be, we spent months reading nutritional info, analyzing food, inspecting menu boards, and, yes, even eating some of these industrial-strength calorie bombs to come up with a list of the restaurant industry's worst individual offenders. Our primary criterion? Sheer caloric impact. After all, it's the top cause of weight gain and the health problems that accompany it. We also factored in other key nutritional data, such as excessive carbohydrates and fat, added sugars, trans fats, and sodium.

The result is our first annual list of the worst foods in America.

Worst Drink
Jamba Juice Chocolate Moo'd Power Smoothie (30 fl oz)
900 calories
10 g fat
183 g carbs
166 g sugar

Jamba Juice calls it a smoothie; we call it a milk shake. In fact, this beverage contains more sugar than 2 pints of Ben and Jerry's Butter Pecan ice cream.

Worst Supermarket Meal
Pepperidge Farm Roasted Chicken Pot Pie (whole pie)
1,020 calories
64 g fat
86 g carbs

The label may say this pie serves 2, but who ever divided a small pot pie in half? Once you crack the crust, there will be no stopping.

Worst Mexican Entree
Chipotle Mexican Grilled Chicken Burrito
1,179 calories
47 g fat
125 g carbs
2,656 mg sodium

Despite a reputation for using healthy, fresh ingredients, Chipotle's menu is limited to football-size burritos, overstuffed tacos, and gigantic salads — all of which contribute to a humongous waistline.

Worst Kids' Meal
Macaroni Grill Double Macaroni 'n' Cheese
1,210 calories
62 g fat
3,450 mg sodium

It's like feeding your kid 1½ boxes of Kraft mac 'n' cheese.

Worst Fish Entree
On the Border Dos XX Fish Tacos with Rice and Beans
2,100 calories
130 g fat
169 g carbs
4,750 mg sodium

Perhaps the most misleadingly named dish in America: A dozen crunchy tacos from Taco Bell will saddle you with fewer calories.

The Worst Food in America
Outback Steakhouse Aussie Cheese Fries with Ranch Dressing
2,900 calories
182 g fat
240 g carbs

It's the caloric equivalent of eating 14 Krispy Kreme doughnuts, before your dinner arrives. Even if you split this "starter" with 3 friends, you'll have downed a meal's worth of calories.

For a complete list of the 20 Worst Foods in America, and details on how to disarm the restaurant industry's weapons of mass construction, check out these rankings and nutrition secrets.

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