But saying “yes” to upsizing fast food meals could add an additional 1,500 calories each week – and cause weight gain of 10lb a year – Food Standards Scotland (FSS) has warned.
The national body said that agreeing to “upsize” a cheeseburger meal, with fries and a sugary fizzy drink, adding a side of onion rings or answering “yes” to making your coffee large with an extra brownie, could add hundreds of unnecessary calories and is contributing to the national obesity crisis.
It has now launched a campaign to encourage people to say “no” to upsizing.
Recent findings from FSS’s consumer research showed almost three quarters of people in Scotland agree that cheap fast food is too easily available, and two thirds agreed that restaurants, coffee shops and takeaways should not encourage upsizing. Two out of three people in Scotland are considered to be overweight.
Heather Peace, head of public health nutrition at Food Standards Scotland, said: “Overweight and obesity is a major health issue for Scotland and it’s something that should concern us all. It surprising how easy it is to put on extra weight without us realising. By being more conscious of the times we are being upsold to, we will feel more comfortable to say ‘no’ more often, as it’s an easy way to avoid extra calorie intake.
“These offers are common in restaurants, cafes and cinemas, and we understand that they’re often seen as good value for money. But by frequently saying ‘yes’ to upsizing, there could be a long-term cost to your health.”
The practice has become common in fast food takeaways and cafe chains, where staff are trained to try to upsell more expensive and extra items to a customer in order to increase the value of a sale.
Food Standards Scotland found that adding marshmallows and cream to hot chocolate will increase the number of calories by 158, while buying a fast food meal, made up of a cheeseburger, fries and sugary drink you will consume an extra 454 calories than if you only had a cheeseburger.
Minister for public health, Joe FitzPatrick, said: “I welcome the FSS campaign to raise awareness of upsizing and upselling and helping consumers make informed choices. We want to make it easier for people to make healthier decisions and reduce the harms that can be associated with poor diet and excess weight.”
Men are recommended to eat no more than an average of 2,500 calories a day, while the limit for women is 2,000.