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Big Mac

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Fast food calories can no longer be denied

  • Article by: LYNN UNDERWOOD
  • Star Tribune
  • September 21, 2012 - 2:23 PM

Maybe you won't have fries with that.

This week, McDonald's restaurants posted the number of calories for every food item on the menu boards. With in-your-face, easy-to-read calorie counts, more diners might begrudgingly replace oil-dipped small fries (230 calories) with healthy apple slices (15). Or opt for a burger instead of a salad. Who knew that a Southwest Salad with Crispy Chicken has more calories (450) than a Quarter Pounder (420)?

The potentially diet-busting numbers are an eye-opener for some customers, while others don't really care, said Jeff Smith, who owns seven McDonald's restaurants in the Twin Cities area.

"Some people said they don't want to know what they're eating," he said.

But it'll be harder to keep your head in the sand. As part of the federal health care bill, major restaurant chains with more than 20 locations will be required to post calorie numbers, likely within the year.

Public health and nutrition advocates agree that it's not a magic fix for obesity, but knowing that a favorite Mocha Frappe has a whopping 560 calories could help diners make smarter choices.

Nila McDonald, a regular at a Golden Valley McDonald's, said the guilt-inducing calorie counts have spoiled her happy meal. "Next time I'll get the grilled chicken sandwich but not the fries," she said. "And I'll ask them to hold the mayo.''

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