Video: Beware of ‘Extreme Eating’ dangers

  1. Transcript of: Beware of ‘Extreme Eating’ dangers

    MATT LAUER, co-host: We're back now at 7:45. If you love eating out at popular restaurant chains , look out. You could be loading up on so many calories and other bad things you need your cardiologist on speed dial. The Center for Science in the Public Interest is out with its Xtreme Eating Awards , its roundup of the worst offenders. David Zinczenko is author of " Eat_This ,_Not_That!" and his latest book is called " Drink This , Not That !" David , good morning. Nice to see you.

    Mr. DAVID ZINCZENKO (Author, "Eat This, Not That!"): Good to see you, Matt.

    LAUER: The day is approaching where all restaurants are going to have to tell you right on the menu how many calories are in every meal. That day is not here yet.

    Mr. ZINCZENKO: Right.

    LAUER: And until that arrives, it seems Americans are very bad at math, aren't we?

    Mr. ZINCZENKO: Right. And some cities are requiring it already, but it's going to kick in nationally. And the problem is studies show that we underestimate calorie counts by 94 percent in our meals. So we think, hey, that's 600 calories and it's in fact 1200 . And that's really significant because there are dishes out there with thousands of calories in them.

    LAUER: Let me mention one of those dishes. We don't have it here on the table.

    Mr. ZINCZENKO: Right.

    LAUER: But we've got a graphic of it. This one is from The Cheesecake Factory . It's their Pasta Carbonara with Chicken . It has 2500 calories and 85 grams of saturated fat .

    Mr. ZINCZENKO: Yeah.

    LAUER: What does that do to your daily allowance of fat and calories ?

    Mr. ZINCZENKO: Well, it blows the whole thing away. Eight-five grams of saturated fat is over four days' worth. And in fact, we even found worse offenders. We found a -- one that had -- a pasta chicken dish that had 3700 calories and 134 grams of saturated fat . That's a week's worth in one meal.

    LAUER: In their defense, Cheesecake Factory issued a statement for us and they said quote, "With more than 200 items on our menu, we literally provide a way to satisfy every guest. We're pleased to offer healthy alternatives from our Weight Management lineup, which features several meals under 590 calories each."

    Mr. ZINCZENKO: Right.

    LAUER: It is up to the consumer, isn't it?

    Mr. ZINCZENKO: It is up to the consumer. And the good news is that you can go to your favorite restaurants and eat healthfully and still, without sacrificing taste or your waist. This report didn't show you how to do that. That's what ...

    LAUER: And that's why you're here.

    Mr. ZINCZENKO: ... that's what we do.

    LAUER: OK. This is California Pizza Kitchen 's Tostada Pizza with Steak .

    Mr. ZINCZENKO: Yeah.

    LAUER: And this one has what?

    Mr. ZINCZENKO: Seventeen-hundred calories .

    LAUER: And you say there's a healthier alternative at the very same restaurant.

    Mr. ZINCZENKO: Yeah, right. So you go and you get the barbecue chicken pizza. You can have three slices of it and it's going to come in at 570 calories .

    LAUER: But again, here we're talking portions. Here's a whole pizza, you're asking people to trim down to three slices.

    Mr. ZINCZENKO: That's correct because when you go in and you order this individual size pizza, the waiter's not going to say, ` Hey, you know, make sure you split that with three buddies.' I mean, that's -- it's up to us...

    LAUER: That's not going to happen.

    Mr. ZINCZENKO: ...right, to get that information and the calorie counts.

    LAUER: OK. Let's move on to Five Guys . I think President Obama likes Five Guys , right?

    Mr. ZINCZENKO: He does. And the good news is that's 920 calories , which is not as bad as a Triple Baconator out there which is 1350 calories . So, you know, he saved...

    LAUER: But still, 920 calories is a lot for a single burger.

    Mr. ZINCZENKO: It's a lot, it's a lot. So if you're at Five Guys and you go with something like the little burger here, it's 575 calories , it's got -- it's got lettuce, tomato, mushroom, onions, cheese. You know, you're going to be in much better shape. Sure, it's not a health food, but when you're slicing 400 calories off the meal it's significant.

    LAUER: It's great. Outback Steakhouse. This is their rack of lamb. It's got 1800 -- 1300 calories , excuse me.

    Mr. ZINCZENKO: Yeah.

    LAUER: Sixty grams of saturated fat .

    Mr. ZINCZENKO: Which is three day's worth of saturated fat .

    LAUER: And salt, lots of salt.

    Mr. ZINCZENKO: Right. So a full day's worth in an ideal environment.

    LAUER: Really quickly, the alternative?

    Mr. ZINCZENKO: But 344 calories in a filet with wild mushroom sauce. You've shaved 1,000 calories . That's what 's important.

    LAUER: Make smart choices. If they go to a restaurant and they say we have award-winning dishes, make sure you know which award they've just won.

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