Super Sized Meals are No Bargain!
November 17, 2006 6:50pm CST
Yes, you know super-sized fast food meals are terrible for your health, but you still can't resist upgrading for a few extra cents to turn your carton of fries into a tub, and your cup of soda into a bucket to help wash down that giant, greasy cheeseburger. The upgrade from a standard meal into a "super-value" or "super-sized" meal seems like it makes the biggest bang for the buck. So you always plop the additional 67 cents or so for a bigger meal you know is terrible for your health, but who can resist a bargain? But is this bargain all it seems? A new study reveals what may be a more convincing reason to pass up a "super-size" opportunity your wallet. While you get about 400 more calories, or 73 percent more food in a super-sized meal over the standard meal, these extra calories translate into much higher costs for health care, extra food and even gasoline. Based on estimates, every extra value meal equates to 35 cents extra in overall food costs, since a heavier person needs to eat more calories, and extra health care costs can range from 82 cents to $6.64, because of obesity-related diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and arthritis. Additionally, for every extra value meal you eat, you will end up paying about 5 cents more in fuel costs, as heavier people makes cars and planes less fuel efficient. "In essence," writes Rachel Close, study author from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition, "the more a person overeats, the greater the financial cost." Basically, the authors calculate, for every 100 extra calories a person eats in a given day, the additional cost beyond the meal may be anywhere from 48 cents to $2. The more you eat, the more these costs add up. In America, where almost one-third of adults are considered to be overweight, it seems health warnings about the damage that fast foods can do your body don't help. Everyone knows these fried, sugary, greasy foods just shouldn't be consumed on a regular basis, so the study authors hope that their emphasis on additional cost is more convincing. "These calculated costs exceed the value of upsized meals and may provide motivation to some consumers not to upsize their meals," writes Close. So next time you're at your favorite drive through, opt for the more standard-sized fare, and put the change you just saved back in your pocket. There, it makes for a much better bargain.