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Death By Double Down: Why Are So Many People Knowingly Harming Their Health?

Death By Double Down: Why Are So Many People Knowingly Harming Their Health?

My neighbor tried to commit suicide last week: He ate the KFC Double Down.


He didn’t die instantly, but he may have reduced his life expectancy dramatically. According  to KFC, the original Double Down, which consists of two fried chicken breasts, bacon, cheese, and an extra-fatty “Colonel’s sauce,” is 540 calories, 32 grams of fat, and 1,380 mg of sodium, but experts  suspect the figure may be even higher. Either way, it’s practically a quadruple bypass sans bun, and it can also contribute to cancer, kidney problems, obesity, and other health issues. It is, as Susan Levin, a dietician with the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM), points out, appealing to people with a death wish.


Care2′s Ann Pietrangelo recently noted that some people may not fully comprehend just how much fat, cholesterol, and sodium they’re consuming when they eat extreme restaurant meals. But this isn’t the case with Double Down, as the “nutritional” information  has been widely-reported, and KFC has been repeatedly criticized for offering such a beyond-unhealthy item.


Which leaves me wondering why a seemingly smart, successful, and sane man like my neighbor would deliberately eat the Double Down? He has a lot to live for: a good job, a decent house, and a loving family. And, like most people, he professes to oppose cruelty to animals. I didn’t question his reasons for buying the sandwich, as I just happened to overhear him say that he bought it, but I’m mystified, really.


I’m certainly not the only one who can’t fathom why so many people are buying the Double Down that KFC is going to offer it for longer than it had originally planned, expecting to sell its 10 millionth Double Down by the end of the month. A Los Angeles Times columnist even researched the matter and explained that people who order the Double Down and other “elephantine eats” may be thrill seekers, men who feel that it’s macho to eat gargantuan amounts of food, people who are rebelling against health advice,  or those who feel that they are getting a good value for a novelty item.


I’m still scratching my head though; especially about the “I’ll show you, I’ll eat myself sick,” mentality. Some people simply don’t care about their health, which would be fine except that their poor choices contribute to our collective healthcare costs, and mean pain and suffering for animals on factory farms. Others believe that everything is fine “in moderation,” a practice which relatively few people actually adhere to. Considering that most fast food is high in MSG, a “flavor enhancer” which some health experts say is physically addictive, it’s not surprising that consumers go back for more and more and more.


According to Dr. Neal Barnard, the president of PCRM and the author of Breaking the Food Seduction, certain foods, including meat and cheese, have opiate-like properties. That’s why many people constantly crave unhealthy foods like the Double Down rather than wholesome foods like raspberries, asparagus, or other fruits and vegetables which taste good, but aren’t addictive.


Whether they’re literally hooked on unhealthy food, they’re rebelling against common sense, they’re seeking a new “thrill,” or they have some other inexplicable reason, a number of Americans are slowly killing themselves at KFC. Perhaps the real mystery is, “What will stop them?”


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9:31PM PDT on Apr 24, 2011

I guess that people eat things that aren't good for them for the same reasons that people smoke or drink to excess. They want to enjoy living now. Everyone will die of something at some point, and different people have different ideas of what they are willing to give up (food/cigarettes) and what they are willing to do (exercise) in order to prolong life. It's not an exact science. My mother ate lots of vegetables and died young. My father eats unhealthily and will soon turn 78.

5:09AM PDT on Apr 24, 2011

The Double Down disgusts me, but my fiance, being a devout carnivore tried it a while back. He made an awful face, sat it down, and said it was gross! Later on, I made my own, sanely portioned, grilled version using locally sourced, humanely raised and slaughtered meat, and cheese from the farm down the road. And of course, I balanced it with plenty of fruit and veggies. He loved it - ate only half and saved the rest for lunch the next day. If only I had the same natural food sense... :-p

4:35PM PDT on Apr 21, 2011

For god's SAKE there is not even any actual food in KFC it is all poisonous chemicals one cannot even pronounce and disgusting traumatised reconstituted chicken which led the most horrific life stuck in a cage unable to turn around with probably no feet, wings cut off etc why are these companies allowed to trade?? Now there's a conspiracy if ever I sniffed one. Phew. And breathe...

4:32PM PST on Jan 4, 2011

I made a petition about it called Double Down Dangerous go to Health: Food Safety and onto activist petitions I made it on jan 4 2011 Please sign it I am raising butterfly credits for a school meal for a child in a poor country!

1:50PM PDT on Oct 22, 2010

Now that I know about it I'll make sure not to get it.

It's just amazing how much Sodium alone is in fast food and restaurant food.

Even non-chain restaurants often use an absolutely killer amount of sodium in their food.

I went to an Italian place recently and their Marinara sauce tasted saltier than the ocean. I sent it back and asked them, rather seriously, if they were trying to kill elderly people (I am 50+).

6:07PM PDT on Jul 4, 2010

One thing I can say is that to eat healthy, it takes planning and preparation.

6:57AM PDT on Jun 18, 2010

And there is a crazy maverick doctor who claims cholesterol is the best thing around

11:51PM PDT on Jun 14, 2010

I haven't eaten meat in about 5 years, so just looking at this sammich makes me want to yak. I am married to someone who would love this though. While I love me some junk food on occasion, I know I need to eat it in moderation. I think willpower plays a huge part in being able to eat healthy, and some people just don't care either way.

On a side note, I used to eat poutine which is a Canadian delicacy of french fries topped with cheese curds and smothered in gravy. So on the other hand, I kind of get it.

5:40PM PDT on Jun 11, 2010

Glad I don't eat KFC often and I dont' eat the Double Down. I eat sometimest the chicken, Mac & Cheese, and the potato weggies and Biscuits or Corn Bread.... I rarely eat Fast Food.

8:23PM PDT on Jun 9, 2010

Jan N. as you can tell from my previous post, not everything is black & white. That's why our school systems need to change. We need to be serving healthy foods in school & offering vegetarian diets while removing soda machines & junk-food machines replacing them w/healthy alternatives but that doesn't pull a corporate profit for the greedy profiteers & that's who we're fighting. It's an unjust system so many simply can't get the information while others have no clue there is information available or that what they are doing is harming them. If they get lucky, they will learn but most don't b/c they stay within that circle of life forever. It becomes haibt and ultimately it will kill them. The DD and foods like it are a type of suicide. It is like eating a small dose of poison every day only one day you take too much and wham, your heart gives our or your kidneys fail or your liver goes.. Either way, you die a needless death far too young than you should have been in the first place.

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