Northern Ireland families are increasing their risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes and obesity through their love for the takeaway burger, it has been claimed.
Shock new research has found that takeaway burgers with toppings, large sides and a large soft drink can provide the full adult daily allowance of calories, salt and fat.
A study of a range of takeaway outlets across the island of Ireland has also revealed that one third are serving up so-called kiddie burgers that are actually bigger than the regular burgers they sell.
The findings of the report have raised fresh concerns for the health of children and adults across Northern Ireland as busy lifestyles mean more people are regularly turning to takeaways to feed their families.
Diets high in salt and fat are linked to an increased risk of potentially fatal heart disease and stroke, while calorie-laden diets are to blame for the obesity crisis currently facing the population.
The research, carried out by Safefood, examined 240 burgers — 80 in Northern Ireland — served up at 47 takeaways across Ireland.
It found that an adult ordering a standard quarter pounder with bacon and cheese, regular portion of chips and a medium soft drink would consume a gut-busting 1,500 calories — over two thirds of the recommended daily allowance.
Add some larger portions and the study discovered that an adult could consume their entire recommended daily allowance of calories in just one sitting.
The study also analysed the fat, the calorie and the salt content in burgers made for children and found that on average they provided 25% and 33% of saturated fat and salt respectively.
This rises to 32% and 53% when you add bacon and 37% and 45% with a cheese topping.
Cliodhna Foley-Nolan (left), from Safefood, said: “Almost a quarter of food adults consume today is prepared outside of the home, and consumers consistently say they want the appropriate information to make better choices.
“While takeaway burgers are a source of iron and protein they contain considerable levels of fat and salt.
“In addition, the usual burger meal is not balanced and is practically devoid of vegetables and fibre.”
Ms Foley-Nolan said that it is possible to opt for a healthier version when ordering a takeaway burger.
She said: “People need to be aware of portion sizes when it comes to ordering takeaway burgers.
“Takeaway burgers are a meal and should not be considered as just an in-between meals or late-night snack. More often than not, when ordering burgers, people also order a portion of chips and soft drinks.”
The results of the survey are the latest shocking findings by Safefood which is analysing a range of foods to help people become more aware of the calorie content of their meals, including popular takeaway foods.
It has already looked at the nutritional content of chicken and potato products in deli counters and takeaway outlets and has also tested salt levels in soup in catering establishments.
How to make a healthy burger
- 1lb lean minced beef/lamb
- 4oz breadcrumbs
- Pinch of mixed herbs
- 1 small onion chopped finely
- Beaten egg
When buying meat for homemade burgers choose lean mince.
Use alternative seasoning to salt, such as mixed herbs or |pepper.
Mix all the ingredients in a bowl and bind with the beaten egg.
Shape mixture into round shapes with a little flour and store in fridge until ready to cook.
Cook burgers in a frying pan using low fat oil.
Serve the burger with a side salad or choose lettuce, sliced tomatoes, pickles or onions as toppings.
If using a sauce, opt for tomato relish or low sugar tomato ketchup and if adding cheese, go for the low fat option.