NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – The "super-size" deals at fast-food restaurants aren’t such a bargain once the costs of weight gain are considered, according to a new study.
Researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison found that while the average "upsized" fast-food meal costs a mere 67 cents more than a regular meal, those bonus calories could translate into substantial daily costs due to weight gain.
"These calculated costs exceed the value of upsized meals and may provide motivation to some consumers not to upsize their meals," Rachel N. Close and Dr. Dale A. Schoeller write in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition.
Based on their estimates, each fast-food "value" meal would cost an adult 5 cents more in fuel expenses — as heavier passengers reduce a car’s fuel efficiency – and about 35 cents in overall food costs, since heavier people need more calories.
Add to that the healthcare cost per super-size meal — which ranges from 82 cents to $6.64 — and these fast-food deals are no deal at all, Close and Schoeller assert. For every 100 calories a person eats beyond his daily needs, Close and Schoeller calculate the price in terms of food, medical care and gasoline rises anywhere from 48 cents to nearly $2.
The heavier a person is, the greater the cost.