Subs Aren't All Healthy

Advertising should be honest


Taking Steps

Jessica Kerlin

Sub Solutions

Everyone knows the importance of eating healthy and staying fit. This has been made popular by reality television shows such as The Biggest Loser and many commercial advertisements for weight loss and nutrition. In the past decade, many restaurant franchises have even taken steps to demonstrate to the public that they have health-friendly meal options.

Subway’s motto is Eat Fresh—the franchise prides itself on being a healthy food resource for people on the go or even looking to dine in. If Subway is committed to providing its customers with healthy food options, should it eliminate all unhealthy items from its menu?

If Subway wants to maintain its reputation as a fresh and healthy alternative to fast food, it needs to remove its unhealthy items from the menu.

Subway® has an entire menu of Fresh Fit subs that all have less than six grams of fat. In addition, customers can make a Fresh Fit meal out of their sub by adding healthy items such as apples, low-fat yogurt, and bottled water.

It is contradictory and confusing for Subway to boast about these fresh and healthy sub sandwiches while still selling subs that are very high in calorie, fat, and sodium content. From seeing the advertisements, customers may think they are eating something relatively healthy when they are truly not.

Subway started emphasizing its nutritional benefits after Jared Fogle went on “the Subway diet” and lost 245 pounds. Since then, Subway has shared Jared’s story with America, hoping to attract more health-conscious customers with their nutritious subs.

Although Subway does not endorse the diet, it does market itself as a fresh alternative to greasy burgers from McDonalds, Burger King, and other fast food restaurant chains. It even posts nutritional comparisons in calorie and fat content between itself and McDonalds and Burger King on all Subway napkins. Subway’s goal is to make customers aware of how healthy its subs are in comparison to other fast food choices.

This information is misleading, however, because only the subs on the Fresh Fit menu are healthy. At McDonalds, a Quarter Pounder® with Cheese has 510 calories and 26 grams of fat. At Subway, a six-inch Meatball Marinara sub has 580 calories and 23 grams of fat. In this scenario, McDonalds trumps Subway in calorie content and only has three additional grams of fat. For a foot long meatball sub, these amounts are doubled! Here, does it really matter whether you go to Subway or McDonalds? I don’t think so.

According to The Biggest Loser, a New York Times bestseller for weight-loss and health goals, the recommended amount of calories per meal is between 200 and 350 calories.  This is based on a range of daily calorie intake for all people. If you’re trying to lose weight, it is best to stay on the lower side of the scale. If you have no weight loss goals, the higher side of the scale is recommended.

Subway has several menu items that are well over this recommended average limit. In addition to the Meatball Marinara, many classic subs, including the Chicken and Bacon Ranch and Big Philly Cheesesteak, have high calorie and fat contents, not to mention dangerously high levels of sodium.

Several of the subs also contain trans fat, which many customers may be unaware of. According to the American Heart Association, consuming trans fats greatly increases the risk of developing heart disease. The Meatball Marinara has one gram of trans fat; the daily limit for trans fat is two grams—better watch what you eat the rest of the day!

Subway does post this nutritional information in each of its franchise locations on a small chart, and it is also readily available on Subway’s website. Despite this, advertising itself as a healthy alternative is deceptive when there are so many unhealthy options available on the menu.

Subway is a great place for people that need to eat healthy and on the go, if they are aware of which subs not to order. Their Fresh Fit menu has great options that will not interfere with health goals. If Subway wants to maintain this reputation, it needs to eliminate unhealthy items from the menu. Perhaps Subway could alter the ingredients in the unhealthy subs to make them less fattening and a better choice for its customers.

Subway recently added breakfast items to its menu. Some of the new Muffin Melts have turkey bacon. Why not use turkey bacon for its regular subs? Sure, not all people need to watch what they eat or lose weight, but ALL people should be trying to eat a healthy and balanced diet. Even if someone is at a perfectly normal weight, it is still important to eat properly.

With the American hype regarding health, Subway would only benefit from converting its menu to all health-friendly items. Advertising its Fresh Fit menu is misleading when there are many high calorie and high fat subs still available to customers. If Subway wants to retain its reputation as a healthy alternative to regular fast food joints, it needs to kick the bad subs in the bucket and get with the program.

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