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?”