How Many Calories in a “Super-size” Meal? 1960’s – 2013



Today I meant to create a short facebook “status” about how calorie content has changed in fast-food from the 1960’s to today.  However, this post turned into something much more.  Not only did I realize that I wanted to provide a fun, and serious fact about fast-food in this day-and-age, but I also wanted to empower and relate to Americans.  This post went like this …

“I rarely appreciate when I read posts bashing fast food or even healthy diets. Why? It isn’t because they aren’t true, but because these delicate topics should come from a place of love. I.e. this information should inspire others to feel empowered about how much “say” they have when it comes to their health and wellness. But, truly empowering information must come from a place of love, instead of superiority.

I thought the fact that proceeds at the end of this paragraph was interesting. As I move through my dietetic internship rotations to become a dietitian, I’m learning a lot, and re-learning a lot of old information. I began my journey as a nutritionist and now future dietitian 7 years ago. I will have been in the field of nutrition science for 8 years when I finish my internship next year. Since then I’ve been busy working on my undergraduate bachelors in dietetic science degree, Masters degree in nutrition and food science, various holistic nutrition workshops, yoga and related diet, reiki, and now my dietetic internship. It isn’t very often that I am sparked by a fact. The following is about food portion sizes and how they have changed since the 1960’s. We’ve heard a lot about this, even if you aren’t in the nutrition field, but this is a nice perspective. Whether you pass it on to our youth, your own children, future children, family or personally ….

“”In the 1960’s an average fast-food meal consisting of a hamburger, fries, and 12-oz cola provided 590 calories.“”

Guess how many calories a Super-Sized meal provides today?

1,500 calories …or more.

Majority of us need no more than 2,000 calories, per day, so 1,500 is a lot when put into perspective! But it’s more than just “calories” it’s what those calories are made of (nutrition vs. non-nutritious).

The super-sized meal is our countries idea of “value” and “savings.” I grew up being “treated” to fast-food a few times a month by my mom or parents of friends. I remember having the kids meal, and being SO excited for the toy! Sure this food had no nutritional value, but the experience is what I loved. While it’s the experience of eating food with no nutritional value is something I no longer wish to have, I realize that one day I’d like to encourage my own children to have healthier experiences. Fast-food was HUGE when the baby boomer generation grew up (1946-1964), and there wasn’t much to dislike about it. It was cheap, convenient, innovative, a social experience among teens, children and families, and there were no signs of heart disease or other health complications from this type of food.  Many of our parents (I am from generation Y) shared in our experience of a “happy meal” with us as they reminisced about their upbringings.

The point is, times are changing, and when someone says …”Whats really so bad about fast-food?” Maybe we can stop and think about the changing times.

I’ll just come out and say it. I don’t think we should feed our youth or ourselves this food because the truth is, times are changing. The way meat is produced for fast-food chains is changing every year, and much of it is becoming not only nutritionally non-existent, but pretty toxic. Soda is difficult on the bones, teeth, stomach, blood glucose levels, fat storage, etc., and french fries can become carcinogenic (cancerous) when they have fillers added to them and/or are cooked in oil which is not pure. And now we have access to great food!  With healthier food options becoming more and more in demand, prices are dropping, you just have to look around. And there are so many innovative ideas to sneak in healthier foods which taste great.  You can comment or email me for tips and suggestions.

It blew my mind to see 590 calories, jump to 1,500, for one meal. That’s a 900 calorie increase in fat, carbohydrates, sugar content, for the same meal (much bigger portion)!

Nutrition is a preventative measure to help you enjoy life as a healthy, thriving individual no matter what age or health status.  Finding inspiration and feeling empowered to take control of your health is an incredible venture, and small, manageable changes is all it takes. You’ve just got to do you’re best. We’re not perfect, we’re just here to experience life in darkness (negative) and in light (positive) …do your best, and remember you are human, you are not perfect.”

P.S. I am continuously getting stronger and stronger. There was a death in my family last week which set me back a bit, but this week has been great so far.  I will post soon about my progress with overcoming lyme disease and getting back into exercise.

Om Shantih,


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