Fast Food Fright

KFC's Double DownLast week, the chicken chain KFC launched a new product called the Double Down. The company boasts that this “sandwich,” which consists of bacon, cheese, and a special sauce nestled between two pieces of chicken, is “so meaty, there’s no room for a bun!” There is room, however, for 32 grams of fat and 1,380 milligrams of sodium, according to the product Web site. These nutrition statistics, combined with the product’s unusual nature, have led to wide-ranging media coverage of the Double Down. CNN was prompted to ask, “Is fat fare at fast foods going too far?” while Stephen Colbert of The Colbert Report called the concoction “the warped creation of a syphilitic brain.”

But setting aside the novelty of having no bun, how outrageous is the Double Down nutritionally? To start with the obvious, 1,380 milligrams is indeed a lot of sodium — 58% of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s recommended daily allowance (RDA). And perhaps more worrisome than total fat is the Double Down’s saturated fat content of 10 grams. According to the American Diabetes Association, saturated fat should be limited to 7% of calories consumed, which is 15 grams daily for a 2,000-calorie diet. In the Double Down, saturated fat accounts for about 17% of the calories. Total fat is, of course, important to many people, and in that area the Double Down gets a whopping 54% of its calories from fat. (Click here for complete KFC nutrition information.)


Comparing it with other basic fast-food items, though, somewhat destroys the Double Down’s bad-boy image. A Big Mac, for example, has the same number of calories (540) and grams of saturated fat, with only slightly less total fat (29 grams). And it only delivers 25 grams of protein, compared with the Double Down’s 53 grams. While some people look to limit protein in their diet — particularly people with kidney disease — others find that protein helps them feel full and thus consume fewer calories. (While it doesn’t mention calories, the television ad for the Double Down alludes to its supposedly superior hunger satiation.) And, as might be expected of a bunless meat-and-cheese entrée, the Double Down has far less carbohydrate than the Big Mac: 11 grams versus 45. Compared with other chicken fast-food offerings, the Double Down looks almost angelic: A Tendercrisp sandwich from Burger King, for example, has 800 calories, 1,640 milligrams of sodium, and 68 grams of carbohydrate. And the grilled version of the Double Down has only 3 grams of carbohydrate, with less fat (23 grams) and fewer calories (460) as well.

What do you think — would you order a Double Down? Does media coverage of the Double Down give worse fast-food offerings (say, Burger King’s Tripple Whopper) a free pass? Should fast-food chains be blamed for the health effects of their offerings, or should customers be considered primarily responsible? Should any government regulation — beyond the labeling requirements included in the recent health care reform legislation — be pursued to curb fast-food excess? Leave a comment below!

  • Joseph Kubica

    Just another reason for diabetics to steer clear of fast food joints and prepare healthy food at home where they have complete control of what goes into it.

  • Carmen

    The Double-Down makes me want to double-over in agony.

  • DWhite

    When I first saw the ad on television for the Double Down, I thought, good heavens,all the fat content. But recently I began a low-carb program and am beginning to see the beauty of the Double Down as a fast food option. Once in a while, it just may be the best thing you can grab in a hurry.

  • Shirley Jones

    I think it would be alright on occasion, and while watching your fat, esp. saturated, and salt the rest of the day.

  • FreeloaderFred

    The day will be here soon!
    Lawyers will be attacking the food industry with the same creativity and enthusiasm as they did the tobacco industry. Even more than their current assault on the drug industry.
    The FDA is making ready to drop the sodium maximum to the 1500 mg range, making these ridiculous concoctions look even more deadly.
    The food industry is so fragmented that legal assaults will be more successful than anything the tobacco industry has experienced.
    This will eventually cause an increase in food prices by the survivors, and increase in lawsuit insurance premiums for the food industry, and a huge change in the food industry map.
    Check your stock portfolio.

  • habman

    Eat Primal and don’t worry about the fat. Low carb, high protien and fat is the answer

  • Mike

    With type 2 I’m glad to see some options other then buns, bread or tortilla’s. You want to lower the salt don’t get the bacon. You can also get it grilled. I glad the went outside the bun!

  • Dan

    As a general rule, fast food is a no. But sometimes you just cant find anything else(traveling on the road, snack bars and beef jerky can go only so far) or you want to treat yourself. Like the article says there are worst things you can eat. One thing that the article doesnt mention though is the grilled version of the double down has a little bit more sodium than the fried version. I think its about 100 mg more. I dont remember. Either way if you eat one of those, water intake needs to be upped to flush that sodium out. Article does make a good point about the protein though.

  • rwadeg

    MMM! MMM! MMM! I never knew such a thing existed. Thanks for the info. I’ll go by one a post back how it tastes! Thanks again for the suggestion.

  • Terry Wagar

    @Joseph Kubica – the double down is a low-carb, high protein food that can be a healthy part of a diabetic diet. I eat these regularly as part of my meal plan that has reduced my insulin needs from well over 200 units per day to under 30.

  • Jess H.

    Dr. Atkins would approve. I’ve eaten 3 this week and regret nothing.

  • Roger Stiefel

    I tried a couple of these around a year ago. My city (Omaha) was a test market. One thing to consider is that the Double Down is filling enough that a side dish is not necessary. Many of these reports fail to mention the entire meal when the nutritional impact is calculated. Many of the leaner recomendations presented are not filling enough for me and without enough fat at a meal I find myself hungry again 1-2 hours later and craving a snack. A low carb meal with some fat keeps me full longer. Also, they never give a good breakdown of each ingredient in a sandwich so you can calculate the totals when you customize the sandwich. When I get a Double Down I order it with Half the sauce and only 1 slice of cheese. It tastes the same and I cut over a hundred calories off. Same thing at Burger King. Get a whopper No Mayo No Cheese and its under 450 calories and low in fat (for a burger).

    The important thing is to be realistic with your portions for the whole day, and read between the lines so you can customize the choices to find what works well for you. Not what an undernourished scrawny dietician says you should do while wagging her finger :)

  • Ben Koshkin

    Fast food in the US is a reality of life. If people want to eat Double Downs, let them. We have the freedom to choose. The more informed people will probably pass.

    Ben Koshkin

  • jonlevy15

    I would say that fast food is a no-no for a diabetic except for a very, very rare “treat”. Judging from the pictures of overweight Americans you see on the Internet, it is probably a no-no for all people.

  • James

    This is probably the most healthy fast food item ever made. Yes, I am serious. Get a clue about nutrition people, the carbs are what are causing you all those diseases, not fat.

  • KW

    But you can get grilled instead of fried and it is a little better for you!

  • chris anicich

    All fast food chains should consider Health over Wealth but they’ll never do that unless the customers demand it or move on to a better health
    food supplier where ever whatever.
    Most everyone charges extra for sugar free and it probably cost them less to make. Why? Chris

  • Robert

    I need to agree with the supporters of this. I am on the road 4 days a week. In the morning if I get a breakfast sandwich at a fast food restaurant, I wind up getting two and throwing away the cheese and one bun to keep the carbs down. One simply does not fill you up. Double egg (protein and fat), keeps me satified until lunch.

    For lunch I would love to try a grilled double down. I would most likely need to have an apple or something to get at least some carbs, but without the bacon and or cheese, this would work out to be a very nurtrious meal. The sodium aside. How does the sodium match up against even a small order of fries I wonder.

    Low carb is healthy for some people and the world simply has to start admitting it. Know your body and eat what works for you. I can eat fat and protein with a few carbs and feel full all day.

    On carbs, I would need medication and would be hungry an hour after a meal

  • Patrick


  • Beverly Alger

    Thank you for this information but I stopped bye the KFC today and asked the cost of the “double down”. Too expensive for me $4.99 just for that.
    I mentioned I could buy a whole chicken for that, thank you anyway.

  • Bill Young

    The Double Over is is the type of nonsensical eating that is causing the avalanche of degenerative diseases in the Western World.

    The heated vegetable oils in fried foods are a source of dangerous free radicals which can oxidize all parts of healthy cells, including the DNA in the nucleous, causing cancer.

    Massive amounts of protein in the chicken, bacon and cheese destroy the acid/alkaline balance in the body, making an ideal environment for the growth of pathogens, bacteria, viruses and fungi and the disruption of the body’s intra cellular communications causing various nerve disorders.

    These are the same acidic body fluids that attack the lining of blood vessels, leading to plaque formation, hypertension and heart attacks.

    On one hand, I am amazed to see the subject of whether this health bomb is dangerous or not debated in a health publication. On the other hand, I am not surprised because of the vested interest the health care industry has in revenue generated by the fast food industry. Susan B Komen for the Cure, the world’s largest breast cancer support organization is pussing Pink Buckets of Kentucky Fried Chicken in return for a kick back of .50 on each bucket sold!

  • J B Drueke, MD

    When you consider the cardiovascular effects of excess calories, fat and sodium in the diet, it is quite likely that eating the likes of this is worse than smoking tobacco.


  • Susan

    Oh my gosh, it makes me want to throw up!!! Ewwww!!

  • granny Pat

    Get it grilled for petes sake and enjoy. You would not eat this every day. We all have freedom of choice. Get it without the cheese and bacon or order it as it comes and have a treat once in awhile. Quit talking about what is or is not good for you.

  • Michelle Owings-Christian

    I had one of these last week. Well, more accurate to say, I ordered one last week. The sauce is odd and spicy, which is no where in the advertising. I had the grilled one, and had just the smallest bit of the top filet and couldn’t finish it. My sister had the crispy filets and she didn’t much like the sauce either. It also has pepper jack cheese on it, which I did not even get down to. So — it is not good if you don’t like spicy food, and no where does it even imply that it is spicy. Not my favorite at all. I can’t eat spicy food, and would never have ordered it if I had known what it contained.

  • Ed

    Finally, a sandwich with everything I want and nothing else. Eating low carb means my only issue with sodium is getting enough of it.

    If people would only realize it’s not the burger that’s deadly. It’s the fries and soda.

  • Dorothy Akins

    Having high blood pressure I have to watch my sodium. I enjoy eating out but unfortuately there are very few places I can go because of the high sodium content of the food. There are many customers like me and how much more would the restaurant industry have if they cut the sodium content of there food.I don’t think most of the regular customers would never know it and how much better off they would all be and if they did they could grab the salt shaker.

  • ted cook

    hi im english and have type 2 diabetes i have eaten fatty foods all my life i am now 74 never been in hospital, do you think they are lying about fatty foods are bad for you, were americans still overweight before they started cutting all the fat off meat worth a thought