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Worst Foods In America List Is Misleading

Posted Jan 26 2009 5:06pm

David Zinczenko and Matt Goulding recently published their list of the 20 Unhealthiest Drinks and 20 Worst Foods in America for 2009.  They found some food so bad for you that it should be illegal to serve it.  They also recently published the  “Eat This, Not That” book series.  In their books, Zinczenko and Goulding reveal just how horrible the foods many Americans eat daily really are.  But, be careful how much faith you put in their list of alternatives.  It’s misleading for two reasons.  1) The “Eat This, Not That” recommendations simply trade one type of junk food for another and 2) They focus only on fast food and chain restaurants.  Choosing the lesser of two evils when it comes to food doesn’t mean you are eating healthy.

Baskin Robbins’ Large Heath Bar Shake earned the dubious double honor as Worst Food in America and Worst Drink in America.  The nutrition facts are absolutely mind boggling.  Pay special attention to the percentages of recommended daily values.  Good news for those on a 2000 calorie diet, you can get three days worth of saturated fat intake in just one drink!  This monster also has an unbelievable 77 ingredients.


And that’s not all Baskin Robbins has to be proud of.  Two more of their drinks landed in the top 5 of the Worst Drinks in America.  The problem here isn’t that Baskin Robbins is singlehandedly trying to clog America’s arteries with the Heath Shake, it’s that Zinczenko and Goulding simply tell people to get a 2-Scoop Hot Fudge Sundae instead.  Going by their “list”, any other food or drink in America (or the whole world for that matter) is better for you, but why would they recommend getting another ice cream drink instead? The chart shows a quick comparison of the % Daily Value between the two.


Although there is a huge difference, you’re still getting almost an entire day’s worth of saturated fat and about 25% of your daily calories in a single drink.  The message seems clear, don’t go to Baskin Robbins.  If anyone is truly concerned about their health and what they eat, they simply have no reason to go there.

I’ve got two more examples of when you shouldn’t eat “That” or “This”.  You can easily find many more.

Imagine you are a smoker, have very bad lungs and trouble breathing.  If you went to the doctor, would you expect him to recommend a different kind of cigarette, or tell you to quit smoking altogether?

Frozen Pizza Alternatives

The same holds true for someone who wants to lose weight through healthy eating.  Your doctor isn’t going to tell you to trade your Totinos Party Pizza for the Classic Crust Red Baron.  That would be like telling a smoker to switch from non-filtered cigarettes to filtered.

Zinczenko and Goulding might as well be saying, “instead of eating a Big Mac at McDonalds just get a Double Cheeseburger”, when they should be saying “Don’t eat McDonalds food.”

Energy Drink Alternatives

For a majority of Americans, daily caffeine is a part of life.  But what happened to just having a cup of coffee?  A closer look at one of the “Drink This” recommendations, Red Bull, reveals some interesting facts.

Red Bull has 15 ingredients, 2 of which are vitamins.  It derives the name from one of the main “energy” ingredients, taurine.  Taurine was originally extracted from bull bile but is now made synthetically.  A good rule of thumb to follow is if the ingredient list looks like a chemistry page, stay away.  Although it doesn’t have caffeine, Naked Juice’s Berry Blast has 10 ingredients, five of which are fruit and two are vitamins.  It also has enough sugar to create a similar effect of caffiene.  A glaring flaw in Zinczenko and Goulding’s list is that they always trade like for like rather than actually providing a true alternative.

Lastly, every drink and food on the Worst list comes from a chain or fast food restaurant.  These companies provide nutrition information to consumers but when was the last time you asked how much fat was in the burgers at your local hamburger joint?  Many Americans are already aware of the dangers of fast food.  For those who aren’t or who don’t care, telling them to eat a hot fudge sundae that only contains 95% of your daily saturated fat instead of 320% isn’t going to solve the problem.  And only targeting chain and fast food restaurants won’t either.  If Zinczenko and Goulding think the Large Heath Shake is bad, they should stop by Chick and Ruth’s Delly in Annapolis, MD.  There you can order the Colossal Shake.  It’s a  6 POUND milkshake that will set you back $16.50 and proudly proclaimed as the world’s largest.  I challenge anyone to find a drink worse than that.

Finding a healthy meal can be done, but not by using the “Eat This, Not That” recommendations.  Replacing bad food with less bad food at chain restaurants implies it’s still okay to eat at these places.  And by not even mentioning local owned restaurants people are left to assume that everything they serve is okay.  A better approach would be something along the lines of “instead of eating a a cheeseburger and fries, no matter what restaurant you go to, try eating a lean turkey burger and grilled vegetables.”

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