Tag Archives: White Castle

Does Eating Fast Food Mean a Higher Risk of Diabetes, Heart Disease?

Living in this fast-paced world, eating fast food is a temptation few of us can ignore at one time or another.

People who have a habit of eating fast food on a regular basis are at greater risk of developing both heart disease and type 2 diabetes, according to new research published in the latest online edition of the journal Circulation.

Scientists from the University of Minnesota School of Public Health in the U.S. and the National University of Singapore worked together to analyze data from a 16-year study, which was based on eating habits of 52,000 Chinese nationals living in Singapore. Each resident had experienced a sudden transition from traditional eastern foods to a Western-style fast food diet.

Fast food in Singapore.

The study “discovered that those who ate fast food two-three times a week were twice as likely to die from coronary heart disease (CHD) compared to those who avoided this type of food,” reports diabetes.co.uk, a British diabetes Web site.

The risk of death from CHD was 80 per cent higher in people who consumed fast food four or more times per week, while even eating out at fast food establishments just once a week was linked to a 20 per cent increased mortality risk.

In addition, the study found that consuming fast food items two or more times each week also increased the risk of developing type 2 diabetes by 27 per cent.

Andrew Odegaard, post-doctoral researcher from the University of Minnesota and lead author of the study, said: “We wanted to examine the association of Western-style fast food with cardio-metabolic risk in a Chinese population in Southeast Asia that has become a hotbed for diabetes and heart disease .

“What we found was a dramatic public health impact by fast food, a product that is primarily a Western import into a completely new market.”

He added that results interestingly showed that the most frequent fast food eaters “were younger, better educated, smoked less and were more likely to be physically active”, which fitted the profile normally seen in a person “with lower cardio-metabolic risk.”

To read further on the subject of fast food, check out these posts:

Why should I avoid fast food? – Infographic

What are the long term effects of that fast food meal? – Infographic

Count sodium as well as calories at fast food outlets

Tips for healthy eating at fast food outlets

Test your fast food smarts – WebMD Quiz

What are the three worst fast food sandwiches?

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Losing Weight in the New Year — One More Food Change

The one junk food that surprised me on the list of foods I ate the most often last year was chocolate chip cookies. I didn’t think I’d had them all that often. But LoseIt! tells me I recorded eating chocolate chip cookies 48 times in 2011, almost once a week.

I consumed 22,884 calories of chocolate chip cookies in 2011, that number really took me by surprise. In terms of calories consumed, cookies were my sixth most consumed item.
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Calorie Counts – A Look at Fast Food’s Future

My trip to New York this week has given me a look at fast food’s future in which calorie counts for items are prominently posted on menus. After a Broadway show last night, we ducked into one of my favorite junk food spots, Nathan’s.

For those who don’t know, the original Nathan’s in Coney Island is a New York legend for hot dogs, and also happens to be only a few blocks from where I grew up. Nathan’s, the company, now has outlets in a variety of places, including around Manhattan.

You’ll see in the attached photos that Nathan’s, along with other chains, is now required to post calorie counts on its menu thanks to New York City regulations. The new federal healthcare bill requires that nationally, so we’ll all soon be seeing this sort of thing across the country.

Look at the calorie counts for some of these. We split the two hot dogs and fries, regular size, which is listed at somewhere between about 1,200 and 1,600 calories (not sure why there’s a range). The Phillie cheesesteak can range up to 1,842 calories, with fries, basically an entire day’s calories for me, and unhealthy ones at that. For Tony, I shot the fish and chips menu board, showing the basic order at 1,536 calories.

I’ve no doubt that this sort of calorie posting nationally will help jar people into rethinking what they buy at fast food outlets and start scaling back and, also hopefully, looking for better alternatives.

After hot dogs at midnight, we’re searching for organic foods and sushi today.

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My Vacation Challenge – Enjoy but Don’t Go Overboard

I’m about to take a four-day vacation in New York, the city of my birth (I’m a Brooklyn boy); and also the city with more food choices per square inch than any city in the country, I think.

I’ve been fasting all week, not eating dinner, to prepare. I have my weight down to 198.8 this morning (a new low in the past two years of weight loss for me). But I know there will be gains in New York. We’re planning stops at a childhood pizza place (Sicilian pizza is a New York wonder food), at Junior’s (a Brooklyn favorite now in Times Square too) for cheesecake, and a big Italian dinner Saturday with cousins on Staten Island. There’ll be an elegant evening meal somewhere as well at least one night while we’re there.

Vacations are for fun so starving myself isn’t really an option. Eating in relative moderation will be, I’ll try for smaller portions of my New York favorite junk foods (Wise potato chips anyone? Can you say Ring Dings?). And my wife and I have picked a hotel with a workout room so we can do something akin to our usual workouts every morning before hitting the streets, and the eats, of New York.

Biggest Loser trainer Jillian advises exercising as part of any vacation. Good advise. Weather permitting, we’ll also be walking miles and miles, New York is all about walking and public transit, we’ll only have a car Saturday for the trek to Staten Island.

I’m hoping to blog about my New York food experiences, watch this space for more. And comment on how you handle eating on your vacations.

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Health Care Bill Means Big Changes for Chain Restaurants

The much dissected and debated new federal healthcare bill will mean big changes for places you may eat at every day. The measure includes requirements for restaurant operators with more than 20 outlets, i.e. fast food chains, to “post calorie counts for standard items on menus and menu boards as well as calories per serving for each item on a buffet and salad bar,” reports Nation’s Restaurant News (there’s a link to this story on our News page along with another on the same topic).


“In addition, restaurateurs would be required to post a brief statement regarding daily caloric intake and advise guests that additional nutrition information is available. Other nutrition data, which must be available on request, would include calories from fat, total fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, sodium, carbohydrates, sugars, dietary fiber and protein.

“The new federal standard will supersede similar measures already approved in California, Maine, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Oregon, Philadelphia, and a dozen other localities. However, New York City’s law, which requires that chains with 15 or more outlets post nutrition data, will remain the same,” the trade paper reports.

Wow. I’ve seen mixed reports on the impact on eating that New York City’s requirements have had. At least one study I’ve read about says seeing calories on menus have caused people to order less, but others have found different results. I think seeing calories can only help us all make smarter choices.

I’m not sure when this provision of the law goes into effect but I can’t wait to see what impact it has. Perhaps it will push some fast food operators to reformulate items rather than tell the public just how many calories they’re getting in some of the junk available.

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Forced to Eat Fast Food – Take it Apart

I know people who avoid fast food altogether and I say more power to them. I find going to that extreme impractical, however. For one thing, I work in a city where the majority of lunch choices I have are fast food outlets. Remember, I also don’t like to bring my own lunch from home. For another, I like some fast food options – my wife and I went to White Castle for lunch last Sunday, for example.

One approach to making some eating peace with fast food is to find the least harmful things on a given menu. The book Eat This, Not That takes that approach and has some eye-opening calorie, fat and other nutritional info, for example. Check out its Web site when you have a chance.

Close up of a pair of sliders

Close up of a pair of sliders

I like to take my fast food eating a level beyond that and actually deconstruct and rebuild items to try for less calories, fat, etc. At White Castle, for example, a slider (that’s a single hamburger on a bun with onions for anyone who isn’t a White Castle fan) is 250 calories, according to WC’s nutritional info. The bun is 70 calories of that. I find it impossible to eat just one slider, I normally get four (in my childhood I routinely ate a dozen at a sitting). When I get four, I combine the burgers on one or two buns, saving myself anywhere from 140 to 210 calories.

While the lo-carb movement got a bit out of hand, in my opinion, I think the premise that we’ve built too many carbs into our diets is correct, so I cut out bread when I can (a WC bun has 13 grams of carbs).

I’m not claiming to eat healthy with this approach, only that I minimize the bad whenever possible by deconstructing and rebuilding my fast food orders.

If you know you eat too much fast food and want to wean yourself off, try this as a first step.

Next: deconstructing at McDonald’s.

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