Burger King Finds Public Health Lesson Un-‘Satisfry’-ing

Burger King recently learned an interesting public health lesson: letting people “have it their way” can be a frustrating business strategy. In response to growing interest in healthier food options, Burger King released “Satisfries.” As reported in the Wall Street Journal, “a small box of Satisfries weighs in at 270 calories, with 11 grams of fat and 300 milligrams of sodium, compared with the chain’s regular small fries, which have 340 calories, 15 grams of fat and 480 milligrams of sodium.” While Burger King’s Satisfries aren’t likely to make the American Heart Association’s love list, it seemed they had their finger on the healthy fast food pulse.

But Burger King’s experiment didn’t go as planned — people didn’t buy. It appears that Satisfries were actually not that satisfying, prompting Burger King to yank them from most of their stores. The Inquisitr gives a few reasons why this could be the case: Satisfries were 30 cents more expensive than normal fries.

Burger King didn’t explain how and why Satisfries were more healthy than normal fries, and McDonald’s offered yet a lower calorie (smaller portion) option than Burger King. Another reason could be that people who eat regularly at Burger King simply don’t care about eating healthier fries. But this all raises a curious public health question: Why would people say they want healthy food but then not buy it?

Burger King is not the only member of the fast food court to be let down for menuing (you get the idea) healthy foods: McDonald’s McLean Deluxe, Dairy Queen’s Breeze, Pizza Hut’s The Natural — all failures. Even with serious marketing from McDonald’s and huge companies like Kraft Foods, people still aren’t biting. So getting people to know they should eat healthy food and getting them to actually eat healthy foods are two different things.

Don’t confuse Burger King’s “Satisfries” as a monarch’s magnanimous gesture to help people eat healthier — business is business and many in the fast food kingdom are beginning to feel pressure from federal overlords, namely the Federal Trade Commission and the Food and Drug Association in their attempts to combat obesity.


Obesity — in both children and adults — has been labeled a “public-health crisis.” Endocrinologists at Children’s Hospital Boston explain that while lack of exercise and poor home diet are partially to blame, fast food is also a major factor:

Results of several studies suggest an association between fast-food consumption and total energy intake or bodyweight in adolescents and adults….A large fast food meal (double cheeseburger, french fries, soft drink, dessert) could contain 9200 kJ (2200 kcal), which, at 350 kJ (85 kcal) per mile, would require a full marathon to burn off.

Some legislation has already been passed to help us trim down, which have largely been popular according to a Harvard University study. In some cities, fast food chains like Burger King are required to list calorie content on the menu. In the end, Burger King seems aware that further legislation is coming and Satisfries was an attempt to menu more healthy options. But in the mean time, although people say they want healthy food, Burger King knows they don’t put their money where their mouth is.

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