Thursday, January 7, 2010

The Numbers: The Taco Bell Diet

Have you seen the new TV commercial touting Taco Bell's new "Drive Thru Diet"? (If not, I've embedded it below.) It's seemingly influenced by those famous Subway commercials highlighting the extreme weight loss of a real customer named "Jared" who years ago went on a diet consisting almost exclusively of Subway 6-inch subs. Remember those? Well, this commercial similarly features a young woman who claims she lost over 50 pounds while eating from the Taco Bell "fresco" menu of lighter items.

An article about this ad posted on the Los Angeles Times website caught my eye. It focusses on the 'fine print' in the commercial. If you watch it again now, you may notice that it states she accomplished this by cutting her average caloric intake by 500 calories a day and by making other "sensible food choices." And as this article reveals, a like-for-like comparison of the nutritional data for these "fresco" menu items against their equivalents on the regular menu reveals that they each only slash about 50 calories off of any item, usually by substituting salsa for the cheese. This numerical analysis of the nutritional data reveals that (surprise!) the "action" in her diet was not really achieved by cutting 50 calories here or there at Taco Bell, but almost exclusively by these other "sensible food choices." You can read the entire article HERE.

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