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Ronald McDonald goes to Taco Bell for obesity boost

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Yum Brands started a new advertising campaign March 27, 2014, to promote its new Waffle Taco™. The people in the commercials are all named Ronald McDonald. Nearly all of these people look like they have been regulars at McDonald’s. So far, a few of the Taco Bell customers in the ads look like they are not already obese.

The Waffle Taco consists of a waffle wrapped around egg and cheese, with your choice of sausage or bacon. The syrup is served on the side to allow you to make a smart diet choice after whatever other bad diet choices you made in ordering the Waffle Taco. In addition to the saturated fat, cholesterol, and carbohydrates, there is a substantial amount of sodium in the Waffle Taco.

The waffle and syrup are nearly 100% sugar, which leads to diabetes and obesity. The saturated fat and sodium are heart health issues. The overall combination of this breakfast treat offers a potential ticket to the diabetes clinic and then onward to the cardiac unit. There is clinical evidence of the strong relationship of obesity, diabetes and heart disease related to what we eat.

According to Consumer Reports, the newly promoted A.M. Crunchwrap™ is an even bigger health risk on Taco Bell’s new breakfast menu.

“The Waffle Taco isn’t the biggest diet disaster on Taco Bell’s new breakfast menu.

No, that honor goes to the A.M. Crunchwrap—eggs, cheese, meat (sausage, steak, or bacon), and a hash brown wrapped in flour tortilla. If you order one with sausage, you’ll get 710 calories, 46 grams of fat, and 1,150 milligrams of sodium. That’s 70 percent of the fat and 50 percent of the sodium you should have in an entire day. The wraps with bacon or steak will save you 50 or so calories and about 5 grams of fat, but they contain even more sodium.

By comparison, the Waffle Taco looks like health food. And while it’s no nutritional star, it is one of the better picks in the fast food arena—provided you stick with only one. (The Crunchwrap is twice the size.) The egg and cheese version has 260 calories, 13 grams of fat, and 420 milligrams of sodium. With sausage, it has 370 calories, 23 grams of fat, and 550 milligrams of sodium.”

Yum Brands is not shy about displaying the nutrition information for the Waffle Taco or the A.M. Crunchwrap. The customers at Taco Bell know that they aren’t at a health food restaurant. McDonald’s nutrition is also available.

This access to nutritional information is a requirement in the Affordable Care Act for restaurants having more than 20 sites. This is another impingement on the freedom of Americans to be able to eat what they want without guilt or health concerns.

Surveys show that customers ignore this information when posted on fast food restaurant walls, but it is at least there. Surveys also show that people that read nutritional information on prepared foods tend to make healthier decisions on their food purchases. There is some hope that fast food customers will at least consider their health when ordering.

Obesity is a growing issue, and accounts for a large share of health care costs. The American Heart Association provides the following 2013 information.

“Of these, the following are obese (BMI of 30.0 and higher):
- For non-Hispanic whites, 33.8 percent of men and 32.5 percent of women.
- For non-Hispanic blacks, 37.9 percent of men and 53.9 percent of women.
- For Mexican Americans, 36.0 percent of men and 44.8 percent of women.”

The increase in obesity is a major factor in the total cost of health care in the US. The American Heart Association has calculated an estimate for the current health costs due to obesity. The highest percentage growth in obesity is among adolescents, with minorities having a faster increase than white adolescents. The differences in these groups may be somewhat dependent upon the costs and availability of foods lower in calories.

“If current trends in the growth of obesity continue, total healthcare costs attributable to obesity could reach $861 to $957 billion by 2030, which would account for 16% to 18% of US health expenditures.”

The bottom line is that you can satisfy your curiosity about the Waffle Taco or the A.M. Crunchwrap once in a while without having a heart attack, making yourself obese or diabetic. If this and other fast food breakfasts are a major part of your diet, you are making decisions that will cause you serious health problems in the future. Fast food is also a bad choice for lunch, dinner and Taco Bell’s “fourth meal of the day”. Eat wisely, my friends.

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