Analysis Argues KFC Double Down Unhealthier Than You Think


  • Ian Froeb
You can say many things about the KFC Double Down "sandwich" of bacon and cheese between two fried (or grilled) chicken-breast fillets -- Gut Check called it a triumph of marketing over substance, and we might have been kinder than the average response -- but at 540 calories, you can't say that it was significantly worse for you than most fast-food sandwiches.

Or can you?

Nate Silver decided to apply the statistical analysis that has made his website FiveThirtyEight a must-read among the politics-obsessed to the Double Down. (Silver also created the PECOTA projections used by Baseball Prospectus.) The results are fascinating.

Silver argues that since we all need calories to live, a mere calorie count is not the best way to gauge the Double Down's impact.
Those 540 calories contain 145 milligrams of cholesterol (more than twice that of the Big Mac and about half of the USDA's daily allowance) -- along with 1,380 milligrams of sodium (the USDA recommends no more than 2,400 per day) and 32 grams of fat (65 will keep you slim, says the government). So, for getting only about one-quarter of the calories that you need in a day, you're exhausting about half your budget of "bad stuff".
Silver then creates an index -- he calls it the Double Down, or DD -- to compare fat, sodium and cholesterol against their USDA recommended allowances. He finds that, in this light, the Double Down doesn't look so good for you. However, based on this metric, burgers like the Wendy's Triple Baconator and the Hardee's Monster Thickburger are more than twice as bad for you as the Double Down.

All of those products, however, contain more -- often substantially more -- calories than does the Double Down. They have lots (and lots and lots) of bad stuff, but some good stuff like protein, iron and fiber as well. Their calories aren't quite so empty, and they damned well ought to leave you full.
Silver then creates another metric accounting for the number of calories in each sandwich. His conclusion?
And here, things don't look very good at all for the Double Down, since for all that crap you're taking in, you're only getting about one-quarter of the calories that you need. 
So if you're curious about trying the Double Down and want to use the calorie count as a reason to do so -- "It's not that bad..." -- well, consider yourself warned.