When it comes to unhealthy eating, the US seems to have the market cornered. Whether it's Taco Bell offering a new Cheetos burrito, or Action Bronson whipping up a fried chicken, ice cream, and Hennessy sandwich, Americans seems to love pairing fatty foods with, well, even more fatty foods.
Still, in a country where nearly every dish is either deep-fried or super-sized, there are certain restaurant chain's where one's chances of leaving with a clogged artery are especially high—establishments where appetizers, entrées, and desserts far exceed the 2,000 calories most adults are supposed to consume in a whole day.
With this in mind, the Center for Science in the Public Interest hands out its annual XTreme Eating Awards for the dishes with the most unsettling nutritional facts. This year's winner? Applebee's.
Thanks to the chain's "Build Your Sampler" option—where guest can order two to five “handpicked” appetizers or bar snacks—one table could potentially consume up to 3,390 calories, 65 grams of saturated fat, and 11,650 milligrams of sodium. And that's before they even get to the main course.
CSPI points to items like the cheeseburger egg rolls (630 calories), brew pub pretzels and beer cheese dip (510 calories), chicken quesadilla (610 calories), boneless wings with classic Buffalo sauce (440 calories), and spinach and artichoke dip (960 calories) as the main offenders.
Those items on their own aren't necessarily terrible for one's waistline—excluding perhaps the spinach and artichoke dip, which also boasts 14 grams of saturated fat and 3,980 milligrams of sodium—but when diners have the option of eating all of them in one sitting, things change. Even if a table splits the splits the platter between two, three, or four people, each person is still consuming the calorie-equivalent of an Applebee's burger.
Still, the restaurant chain isn't alone when it comes to calorie-filled meals. According to CSPI, Buffalo Wild Wings, Sonic, and Dave and Buster’s all came hard with the artery-clogging options as well. Cheesecake Factory was a close second to Applebee's, however, offering a 2,580-colorie fried chicken a waffles benedict dish.
"Pile it on. That’s the strategy du jour of some restaurant execs. More layers, more combos, more 3,300-calorie 'appetizers,'" the study reads. "It’s not like America has a weight problem or anything. Nah."
The point, of course, is to call attention to the country's mounting obesity epidemic. Even though the US accounts for only 5 percent of the world's population, nearly 13 percent of the world's obese people live in the country, according to Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation. That translates to roughly 160 million Americans who are either overweight or obese.