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McDonald’s Profit, Americans Tip Scales


McDonald’s healthier menu changed little: the fast-food giant’s profits are still growing – and so are American waistlines. The nation continues to fatten, according to a new survey. Some 26.1% of American adults defined themselves as obese in 2011, according to the “Well-Being Index” carried out by market research group Gallup and healthcare consultancy Healthways.

These unflattering figures were extracted from Gallup’s daily tracking polls of over 350,000 people and the obesity rates were self-reported. Worse, the real obesity rate is closer to one-third of the population, says Margo G. Wootan, director of nutrition policy at the Washington-based non-profit Center for Science in the Public Interest, as people tend to underestimate their own body weight.

Hungry American consumers appear to prefer Chicken McBites over McDonald’s healthier Apple Dippers. Same-store sales at McDonald’s in the U.S. surged 11% last month, reflecting the success of its new McBites,  which have more calories per serving than the long-standing Chicken McNuggets  — or the cheeseburgers. Company spokeswoman Ashlee Yingling says McDonald’s also offers customers healthy choices such as oatmeal, fruit like Apple Dippers, salads and grilled chicken wraps.

Making small changes can have a huge impact, says Elizabeth DeRobertis, a dietician at Scarsdale Medical Group; for instance, a customer who switches from a 560-calorie McCafé Frappé Mocha to regular coffee would lose over a pound per week. In 10 major metropolitan areas where people tend to eat out more often the obesity rate is even higher — pushing 35%, according to the Gallup/Healthways survey. Americans in those cities pay an estimated $1 billion more in healthcare costs, the study says. Those rates are likely closer to 40% to 45%, says Wootan.

Read more:

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  • Pay Dirt examines the millions of consumer decisions Americans make every day: What to buy, how much to pay, whether to rave or complain. Lead written by Quentin Fottrell, the blog examines these interactions, providing readers with news, insight and tips on shopping, spending, customer service, and companies that do right – and wrong – by their customers. Send items, questions and comments to or tweet @SMPayDirt.