When budgets and schedules are tight, it makes sense that people feel an even stronger impulse to whip through the drive-through for dinner. It's hard not to consider a value meal, even if it's not one of the healthier items on the menu, when it only costs a few dollars for a full plate (or tray or bag, as the case may be) of food.
The Cancer Project, a nonprofit cancer prevention organization that is linked with the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, is concerned that these economic times are not just driving people to eat more fast food, but to regularly consume meals full of unhealthy ingredients. Dollar meals, they say, might not be such a good value once the health implications are factored in. Their biggest issues for low-cost fast food? All the processed meat, salt, cholesterol and fat wrapped into each meal.
The organization put their dietitians to work to determine what meals at the five biggest fast food chains are the worst offenders for our health, measuring the sodium, fat, and fiber content. Here are the five meals they deemed the worst of the fast and the cheap:
1. Jack in the Box's junior bacon cheeseburger (23 grams of fat, including 8 grams of saturated fat, 55 milligrams of cholesterol, 860 milligrams of sodium, 1 gram of fiber) costs $1 and is the organization's top pick for unhealthy fast food.
2. Taco Bell cheesy double beef burrito (460 calories, 20 grams of fat, and 1,620 milligrams of sodium) is 89 cents.
3. Burger King breakfast sausage biscuit (27 grams of fat, including 15 grams of saturated fat, and more than 1,000 milligrams of sodium) is available for one dollar.
4. McDonald's McDouble (19 grams of fat and 65 milligrams of cholesterol) costs the consumer $1.
5. Wendy's junior bacon cheeseburger (310 calories and 16 grams of fat) is the most expensive and the best of the worst, ringing in at $1.53.
To be fair, it should be noted that the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine does promote vegetarian diets that are low-fat. But I have to admit, after reading the nutritional make-up of those fast food menu items, I feel like my arteries are getting clogged just noting all the fat and salt packed into each one.
Does the cost and convenience of fast food lure you into unhealthy eating, especially in this economy?
Does seeing how unhealthy these cheap eats are make you really crave a salad for dinner or will you order them up again anyway?
More reading for that awkward time while the deep fryer's warming up:
- Are fast food ads influencing your kids?
- Where can you get healthier food and fast?
- How well do you know your fast food fries?
[photo credit: Getty Images]