Cheesecake Factory pasta on annual list of caloric 'food porn'

Patron eat on a patio at th The Cheesecake Factory restaurant in California

A Cheesecake Factory pasta dish with 3,120 calories - or more than a day and a half of the recommended caloric intake for an average adult - is among the headliners on this year's Xtreme Eating list of the most unhealthy dishes at U.S. chain restaurants.

The Center for Science in the Public Interest, a consumer-focused nonprofit group that promotes healthier eating, compiles an annual list of "food porn" to alert consumers to menu items with eye-popping levels of calories, saturated fat, sugar and/or sodium.

"You'd think that the size of their profits depended on their increasing the size of your pants," CSPI Executive Director Michael Jacobson said of the industry's Xtreme Eating winners. The list was released on Wednesday.

CSPI for years has used the "awards" to raise awareness and drum up support for calorie disclosure on restaurant menus - something that larger chains soon will be required to do under the U.S. health reform law.

The Cheesecake Factory's Bistro Shrimp Pasta, made with a butter and cream sauce and topped with battered, fried shrimp, also contains a 89 grams of saturated fat and 1,090 milligrams of sodium. CSPI said it confirmed the nutritional data with the companies on the list.

Typical adults are advised to consume no more than 20 grams of saturated fat and 1,500 milligrams of sodium per day.

"It's like eating three orders of Olive Garden's Lasagna Classico plus an order of tiramisu for dinner," CSPI said. Some in the food and beverage industries have dubbed the Washington-based group the "food police".

More than one-third of Americans are obese, and about 10 percent of the nation's healthcare bill is tied to obesity-related diseases, such as Type 2 diabetes, heart disease and hypertension, according to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development.

The nation's food and beverage industries are under increasing pressure from consumer, health and parents' groups to offer more healthy alternatives.

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