by Marion Nestle
Apr 19 2010

KFC as a standard for fast food evaluation? The Double Down Gluttony Index

Statistician Nate Silver uses KFC’s nutritional analysis (which nobody seems to believe, for good reason, as you can see from the added note below) to create a Double Down Index for evaluating the nutritional quality of fast food based on fat, cholesterol, and sodium.

I’ve created an index based on the amount of fat, sodium and cholesterol that the Double Down and a variety of comparable sandwiches contain as a portion of the USDA daily allowance. (In the fat category, saturated fats are counted double and trans-fats are counted triple.) The index is scaled such that the Original Recipe version of the sandwich receives a score of 1.00, a measure of gluttony that will hereafter be known as The Double Down (DD).**

** To calculate Double Downs for your own favorite sandwich, apply the following formula: divide the number of mg of cholesterol by 469, the number of mg of sodium by 3,754, the number of grams of total fat by 133, the number of grams of saturated fat also by 133, and the number of grams of trans-fat by 66. Then sum the result.

He also calibrates Double Downs per Calorie (DDPC): “Take the above result, divide by the number of calories, and multiply by 540.”

His charts are great. Take a look.

Thanks to Richard Einhorn for sending.

Additional note: My NYU colleague Lisa Young, author of The Portion Teller, wrote the company to correct the calorie calculations.  She says:

I’ve done my own calculations for calories obtained from USDAs website….Even the grilled chicken version has nearly 600 calories, and that is without any sauce. Also the actual product looks bigger than the serving size info provided to me which would suggest that the breadless sandwich may even contain more calories than I have listed below.

2 3-oz pieces fried chicken = 441 kcal
2 slices Monterey Jack cheese (1 oz each)=211 kcal
2 slices bacon, medium, cooked= 87 kcal
TOTAL= 739 kcal

2 3-oz pieces grilled chicken = 282 kcal
2 slices Monterey Jack cheese (1 oz each)=211 kcal
2 slices bacon, medium, cooked= 87 kcal
TOTAL=580 kcal

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