If you’re a frequent café or fast food restaurant customer, you’ve probably experienced your cashier recommending a super-sized version of your meal. Usually, most consumers end up going for the upgrade, and it makes sense to do so: why wouldn’t you get the larger cup of coffee with a scone for only a few cents more? Most of the time, you’re getting more food per dollar, so it seems like an obvious choice to go for the larger size. Although these food and drink upgrades seem fiscally genius, you’re actually adding excess calories to your diet.
This is the reasoning behind a new report from the BBC, which claims food chains and cafés are contributing to the UK’s obesity crisis through a business tactic called upselling. Baristas and cashiers around the United Kingdom have been convincing buyers to upgrade their meals to bigger sizes or adding extra toppings for just a few cents more. But some customers are arguing that it’s causing them to eat more than they should and gain weight.
Royal Society of Public Health and Slimming World reported that a staggering 8 out of 10 people experience upselling every week in the United Kingdom and that it contributes to approximately 17,000 extra calories every year.
Royal Society for Public Health chief executive Shirley Cramer told BBC that restaurants and fast food chains are pressuring the public into buying and consuming extra calories “without us noticing” in order to make more money. She also noted to the British publication that businesses needed to stop training staff to upsell high-calorie food and try to push for healthier options on their menus.
And it’s not just the UK; upselling is common in the United States as well. Starting in 1992, McDonald’s used to offer a Super Size option, which was the largest size available in their French fries (7 ounces) and soft drinks (42 ounces) for just a few cents extra.
But after the popular documentary Super Size Me was released in 2004, wherein documentary filmmaker Morgan Spurlock ate nothing but McDonald’s for 30 days to highlight the connection between fast food and obesity, the fast food giant decided to stop offering a Super Size option. The documentary found that ordering such a large size—which was basically two servings of food—was heavily contributing to obesity, yet cashiers would constantly upsell customers these jaw-droppingly large meals.
However, this doesn’t mean you need to avoid your beloved coffee shops and fast food chains altogether. Opt for one of these 20 Surprisingly Healthy Fast Food Orders on your next lunch break, and make sure to avoid upgrading to a larger option. Believe us, your body will thank you for it.