It is without a doubt that McDonald’s trademark dish is the Big Mac. A greasy double layer of seared beef patties topped with gooey signature sauce, American cheese, pale lettuce, diced onions, vinegary pickles, and white sesame buns, the Big Mac packs a heavy 550 calories and a hefty 10 grams of saturated fat – roughly 51% of what individuals are supposed to have in one day.
When you’re rushing through the day, rolling through the local drive-thru to pick breakfast, lunch, or dinner seems like a reasonable and affordable decision, but that cheap, easy meal may cost you significantly both physically and financially in the years to come.
According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, consumption of fast-food dishes – like the Big Mac – are contributing to and escalating the rates of overweight and obese Americans. And now more than ever, people both obese and not are paying for the extra weight, particularly in rising insurance costs and premiums.
Though fast-food consumption is just one of the several causes of obesity, it has contributed to an epidemic that increases health-related costs more and more as the years go by. Currently, obesity costs the U.S. an average of $190 billion a year in health care and insurance expenses – near doubling previous estimates.
Directly and indirectly, fast-food consumption has caused employers to demand employees to pay more for insurance because of missed days of work due to health-related illnesses and increased health insurance premium costs. To alleviate the financial weight, many companies are demanding their employees perform well on health and fitness tests, often making those who don’t participate or perform well pay more for health insurance coverage.
As the federal health care law stands, employers are allowed to charge obese employees workers anywhere from 30% to 50% more for health insurance if they decline to participate in qualified health and wellness programs. Do employers have the right to make those who weigh more pay more? Well, according to Reuters, obesity has been linked to additional missed days of work, decreased productivity, and higher insurance premiums; therefore, many companies are using these facts as a reason for making employees pay up for the extra pounds.
When you’re hungry, a Big Mac, crispy French fries, a creamy milkshake, and a sugary soda may sound awfully tempting, but just remember: fast food may cause you to pack on unnecessary pounds and pay more for medical expenses, health-related illnesses, insurance premiums, gym memberships, and dietary programs. So is a burger worth the bulge? Probably not.
If you’ve eaten a Big Mac, you might be wondering what exactly goes in that burger. Well, the following video takes a look at the real cost of a Big Mac burger, from the health factors to economic contributions. One thing is for sure: there’s more to a Big Mac than beef patties, a few condiments, and two buns.
- Video Transcript
- Health: D
- Locally: (D+)
- A Big Mac burger contains 540 calories, 29 grams of fat, and 1,040 milligrams of sodium. This burger will fulfill 28% of your daily recommended calories, 45% of total fat, and 43% of sodium. If you added a Big Mac to your daily diet for a year, you’d take in an additional 197,100 calories–or 56 pounds of body weight.
- Globally: (D-)
- 900 Million Big Macs are sold every year, that’s 2.5 million Big Macs a day. McDonalds has changed the way not only Americans but the whole world eats. The World Health Organization predicts by 2015 more than 700 million people in the world will be obese.
- Environment: D
- Locally: (D-)
- McDonalds uses frozen meat patties. These patties don’t come from your nearby, local cattle farmer. Each patty contains meat from up to 1,000 different cows from 5 different countries.
- Globally: (D+)
- On their own, Americans consume 5.5 million cattle in McDonalds burgers per year. One cow expels 26-53 gallons of methane per day – about the same amount as a car.
- Economy: B+
- Locally: (B+)
- 550 million Big Macs are sold in over 12,000 US locations every year – that’s an average of over $150,000 for each local economy. Even in the midst of a recession – McDonalds added 60,000 jobs in America in 2011. And reports show – 1 in 8 Americans have worked flipping Big Macs at some point.
- Globally: (A-)
- The Big Mac is sold in 36 countries worldwide, from Argentina to Serbia. The Economist even devised a Big Mac Index to measure a country’s purchasing power based on the price of their Big Macs.
- Final Grade: D+