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As restaurants in the UK start getting to grips with the idea of putting calorie counts of meals on their menus (some already do, such as Pizza Hut, Burger King, KFC and Subway), the US is streets ahead, with draft guidelines by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for restaurant menu calorie labelling expected to become final in the very near future. No wonder they’re getting on top of it, if the results of the Xtreme Eating Awards are anything to go by.

The awards name and shame the country’s most highly calorific dishes. The restaurants themselves aren’t household names here in the UK as they are – I assume – in the US, but just for cautionary tale value I thought I’d share some of the lardiest menu items with you. You will be shocked.

But before we get to the dishes themselves, it’s worth bearing in mind that, according to the people from the Center for Science in the Public Interest (who are behind the Xtreme Eating awards), the average restaurant main course (so no starters, puds or booze) contains around 1,000 calories. For a woman, that’s half your recommended daily intake. And I dare say that restaurant meals here in the UK aren’t far behind (unless you go for a healthy option, that is, but how often do you see lean choices on menus these days?).

So here goes. First, let’s do desserts. If you skip the pudding course because you don’t want to turn into one yourself, then you’ll run screaming from The Cheesecake Factory’s Ultimate Red Velvet Cake Cheesecake (not one but two layers of cheesecake stacked between two layers of red velvet cake plus cheese topping, whipped cream and chocolate shavings). The calories in that little lot come to about 1,540, plus 59g of SATURATED fat. Yikes. Apparently it’s second only to the notorious Reese’s Peanut Butter Chocolate Cake Cheesecake, which has 1,610 calories but 18 fewer grams of sat fat.

Are you feeling full yet?

The Cheesecake Factory also won an award for its Farmhouse Cheeseburger, a nausea-inducing concoction topped with grilled smoked pork belly, cheddar cheese, mayonnaise and a fried egg (okay, so it has onions, lettuce and tomato too – but come on…). All in all, the burger brings in around 1,530 calories and 36g saturated fat.

There’s more, including a toasted cheese sandwich called a Fried Cheese Melt from Denny’s, which comes in at 1,260 calories and 21g sat fat. And how about just a plate of chips (extra-large portion, of course) for 930 cals from the restaurant chain Great Steak (their extra-large King Fries – which are topped with Philly cheese, chopped bacon plus sour cream and chives – deliver 1,500 calories and 33g sat fat… beat that, Harry Ramsden’s!).

I feel I also have to give a special mention to the peanut butter and chocolate shake from Cold Stone Creamery that packs in 2,010 calories and 68g of sat fat. That’s got to take the biggest prize, in my opinion (it’s a milkshake, for goodness sakes, and it contains a while day’s calories and more than three days’ worth of saturated fat). Read about the other winners on the CSPI’s website if you have the stomach for it.

I couldn’t say whether any of the restaurants who were named and shamed in the awards already publish the calorie counts of the dishes they serve on their menus, but if they did, do you think it would put people off?

Now that’s the $64,000 dollar question, isn’t it?