Fast Food Study: Would You Participate?

Recently while perusing the ever-fascinating food section of the Huffington Post, I came across an article about a study focusing on the effects of a fast food diet. Specifically, researchers at Washington University in St. Louis are looking for participants who are willing to eat only fast food for three months straight in exchange for $3500. Study participants may choose from the menus at McDonald’s, Burger King, Taco Bell, KFC, and Pizza Hut—regardless of which fare they choose, they must gain at least 5% of their body weight.

Would you participate? If not, at what price tag would you consider it?

In light of my recent weight struggles, the compensation would have to be pretty high (i.e. at least 6 digits) for me to agree to purposefully gain 5% of my body weight on a fast food diet.

That being said, this study reminded me of an article I wrote as part of my graduate practicum project this past spring. The topic? How to eat (relatively) healthfully at a fast food establishment. I tediously pored through the nutritional information provided by major fast food retailers and picked out the least offensive menu items. I’ve copied it below for your enjoyment.



Multigrain Oatmeal with roasted nut topping & dried fruit + fruit cup (medium) = 315 Calories, 11g fat, 45mg sodium, 7g fiber, 7g protein

Yogurt Parfait with Granola = 290 Calories, 6g fat, 85mg sodium, 1g fiber, 7g protein


Chargrilled Chicken Sandwich + side salad with light Italian dressing = 375 Calories, 9g fat, 1650mg sodium, 5g fiber, 34g protein

Chargrilled Chicken Salad with light Italian dressing and roasted sunflower kernels + fruit cup (medium) = 355 Calories, 14g fat, 1215mg sodium, 7g fiber, 26g protein

Hearty Breast of Chicken Soup (large) + fruit cup (medium) + soft serve cone = 460 Calories, 10g fat, 1875mg sodium, 5g fiber, 18g protein




6” Egg White & Cheese Omelet Sandwich with veggies on wheat bread = 320 Calories, 8g fat, 940mg sodium, 4g fiber, 19g protein

Egg White Morning Melt with cheese & black forest ham + Yogurt Parfait = 340 Calories, 7g fat, 745mg sodium, 3g fiber, 18g protein


6” Turkey Breast Sub with unlimited veggies on whole wheat bread + apple slices = 315 Calories, 3.5g fat, 810mg sodium, 7g fiber, 18g protein

Grilled Chicken & Baby Spinach Salad with fat free Italian dressing + Yogurt Parfait = 325 Calories, 4.5g fat, 1125mg sodium, 6g fiber, 26g protein

6” Veggie Delite Sub with unlimited veggies on whole wheat bread + Chicken Tortilla Soup = 340 Calories, 4g fat, 750mg sodium, 8g fiber, 14g protein




Honey BBQ Sandwich + side of green beans = 345 Calories, 3.5g fat, 1030mg sodium, 5g fiber, 25g protein

BBQ Baked Beans + corn on the cob + house side salad with light Italian dressing = 380 Calories, 3g fat, 1305mg sodium, 13g fiber, 14g protein

Grilled Chicken Breast + mashed potatoes with gravy + side of green beans = 365 Calories, 11g fat, 1520mg sodium, 3g fiber, 43g protein




Fruit & Maple Oatmeal without brown sugar + 1% low-fat milk = 360 Calories, 8.5g fat, 240mg sodium, 5g fiber, 17g protein

Egg McMuffin + apple dippers = 335 Calories, 12g fat, 820mg sodium, 4g fiber, 18g protein


Premium Southwest Salad with Grilled Chicken with ½ packet dressing + apple dippers = 375 Calories, 14g fat, 990mg sodium, 9g fiber, 28g protein

Hamburger + side salad with light Italian dressing = 320 Calories, 11.5g fat, 910mg sodium, 3g fiber, 13g protein

Premium Grilled Chicken Sandwich = 350 Calories, 9g fat, 990mg sodium, 3g fiber, 28g protein


Pizza Hut


2 slices Veggie Lover’s Thin n Crispy Pizza (1 slice = 1/8 medium pizza) = 360 Calories, 12g fat, 1060mg sodium, 2g fiber, 16g protein

2 slices Ham, Pineapple, & Tomato Fit n Delicious Pizza (1 slice = 1/8 medium pizza) = 320 Calories, 9g fat, 1100mg sodium, 2g fiber, 14g protein

2 slices cheese Hand-Tossed Pizza (1 slice = 1/8 medium pizza) = 440 Calories, 16g fat, 1100mg sodium, 2g fiber, 20g protein


If you ate three months of those choices you might not gain tremendous amounts of weight…but I bet your blood pressure would still escalate, and you’d probably be constipated. Lovely.

What are your stand-bys if you have to eat fast food?

11 Responses to “Fast Food Study: Would You Participate?”

  1. I might consider it if the weight gain wasn’t a requirement. It would be interesting to see whether one could eat fast food day in and day out and not gain weight (or feel icky). Five percent of my body weight doesn’t sound like much but when I actually calculated it, I’d pass. I don’t doubt I could lose it as I’m a pretty active person. But I know I wouldn’t feel good running or at the gym with the extra weight.

  2. Honestly? For that much $$ I would consider it. 5% of my weight is only 6 or so pounds, and I could use the dough to splurge on a personal trainer to lose it later. Of course I might end up gaining more than that, which would suck. But I am a vegetarian, so they probably wouldn’t want me for the experiment anyway.

    You couldn’t pay me enough to eat solely at Taco Bell, aka Toxic Hell, for three months though.

  3. When I was compiling those menus, I discovered that it would be very difficult to maintain a vegetarian diet and survive on fast food. Almost all the “healthy” menu items have chicken on them!

  4. After watching Morgan Spurlock do this for only 1 month (in Super Size Me) there’s no way I could do this. It’s really not about the weight gain but rather about how horrible I would feel and all the OTHER problems I would incur from eating fast food none stop. I would have to receive LOTS more money to even think about helping in the study since at this point I don’t even think I could last a week.

  5. I’d do it, but I wouldn’t be able to guarantee weight gain as it’s borderline impossible for me to gain even a kilo.

    I eat take away every week, for each lunch that I am at work and then on the weekends as well. The only homemade meals I have are dinner, and that’s not even every night.

    When I want something kinda of healthy, I go to Subway and get a Veggie Delight with all of the veggies. Or, Grilld, which is a burger place here that has healthy burgers full of veggies, and they offer a really yummy vegetarian burger. But I wouldn’t class it as healthy because I normally get chips and lemonade too!

    But I am not exactly big on stressing for health, so I end up at Mcdonalds a lot of the time, too. Love me a mcchicken!

  6. 3 months is way to long! No way would I do this.

  7. Apart from the weight gain (5% is not really that much in terms of actual pounds), I wouldn’t want to be stuck eating nothing but fast food for 3 months unless the financial compensation was MUCH larger. What’s interesting here is that they require the weight gain rather than seeing what will happen naturally. That’s not really a fair test of anything. As you wrote in your article, it is possible to do it in a healthier way although the appeal of these places is the tastier, less healthy options, of course. Likewise, in Super Size Me, Spurlock went into the experiment with a theory that it would be unhealthy and he chose the worst items on the McDonald’s menu each time.

  8. I would NEVER participate! No amount of money could get me to feel like crap, which is how I feel when I eat fast food.

  9. There’s no possible way I could do this. After detoxing from fast food completely years ago, any taste of it now makes me so sick. I worked so hard (and still do, every day) to lose 40+ pounds and keep it off and there’s no way I could be forced to go back…food is too much of a mental game for me already.
    Fun question!

  10. I agree, the idea of putting that food in my body makes me cringe! But, I do think sometimes it is the only option, and there can be healthy finds at select establishments. That being said, I wish I could make your list of healthier fast food items into a wallet-size card and carry it with me just in case!

  11. I could not do this – no way! I’ve spent the past year and a half working on slowly (and healthily) loosing weight (75+ pounds down so far!) and I’ve gotten to the point where it’s the hardest (and slowest) to loose. Plus, now that I’m a runner and being active is such a huge part of my life, I couldn’t imagine putting that kind of food into my body day after day after day – it makes me uncomfortable just thinking about it!

    PS. I have made myself several mini wallet-sized nutrition “cheat sheets” for several restaurants!

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