Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Fastfood Wars: Final Pizza Results Are In

When the MedFriendly Fast Food Wars began, I decided to analyze the nutritional information from the top pizza chains in the United States to help people make healthier selections. Originally, I planned to analyze the four mega pizza chains (Pizza Hut, Domino’s Pizza, Papa Johns Pizza, and Little Caesars) as well as Pizzeria Uno (Uno Chicago Grill) and Sbarro’s. While I was able to do the analyses on the first five pizza restaurants, I was very disappointed to find out that Sbarro’s has no nutritional information that it provides about its products on their website or in their stores. I called Sbarro’s headquarters and was informed that their foods are being re-tested and that they would not release old nutritional information because it would be misleading. Unfortunately, they've been saying this for over a year.

As a reminder, the analyses conducted below are based on a formula I created called the UHI (UnHealthy Index). The UHI is calculated by taking the six most common nutritional concerns that people have (total calories, saturated fat, trans fats, cholesterol, sodium, and carbohydrates), adding them together, and dividing by six. Higher UHI scores reflect unhealthier foods and scores closer to zero (i.e., water) reflect healthier foods. Also, please keep in mind that the serving sizes designated by the pizza chains were what I used to compare the products. Since Domino’s Pizza products were only analyzed for large pizzas, I did not analyze extra-large pizzas from other pizza chains for the comparisons in these articles. Desserts were not included in these analyses since Chicago Uno has a dessert menu that is in a different category than any of the other pizza chains. Without further ado, here are the results of the pizza analysis.


The unhealthiest food in all five pizza chains is…

Pizza Hut’s 9" Personal PANormous™ Pizza, Meat Lover’s version. It contains pepperoni, beef topping, mild sausage, ham, Italian sausage, bacon bits and mozzarella cheese. The serving size for analysis is the entire pie, which is appropriate because it is a personal pizza. This bad boy has 1470 calories, 30 grams of saturated fat, 1.5 grams of trans fat, 175 mg of cholesterol, a whopping 3670 mg of salt (!), and 123 grams of carbohydrates. Total UHI score: 911.58. This is the only product reviewed across the five pizza chains with a UHI in the 800 range of higher.

The 9" Personal PANormous™ Pizzas are among the unhealthiest products across the major pizza chains. Four of them are in the 700 UHI range, all of which can found on the Pizza Hut comparison page, four are in the 600 UHI range, and three are in the 500 UHI range. If you had to buy one, the healthiest one would be the Veggie Lovers, with a UHI of 576.9.


Highest calories: 1470 (Pizza Hut’s 9" Personal PANormous™ Pizza Meat Lover’s version)
Highest saturated fat: 30 grams (Pizza Hut’s 9" Personal PANormous™ Pizza Meat Lover’s version)
Highest trans fat: 2 grams (Pizza Hut’s Fried Cheese sticks, 4 pieces)
Highest cholesterol: 175 mg (Pizza Hut’s 9" Personal PANormous™ Pizza Meat Lover’s version)
Highest sodium: 3670 mg (Pizza Hut’s 9" Personal PANormous™ Pizza Meat Lover’s version).
Highest carbohydrates: 129 grams (Pizza Hut’s 9" Personal PANormous™ Pizza Meat Lover’s version)


MedFriendly congratulates Little Caesers and Papa Johns for not having trans fats in any of their food products.

UNHEALTHIEST APPETIZER OR SIDE ITEMS (includes bread, chicken wings, and salads):

Chicago Uno’s Chi Town Tasting Plate Contains buffalo wings, avocado egg roll, chicken thumbs, crispy cheese dippers, and French fries. Total calories = 470, saturated fat = 6 grams, trans fat = 0 grams, cholesterol = 85 grams, sodium = 1030 mg, carbohydrates = 28 grams. Total UHI = 269.83. Serving size = 5. Keep in mind that these values are only for one serving size and that you would need to multiply these numbers by 5 to calculate the values for the entire plate.


With the exception of Pizza Hut, the other pizza chains all provide nutritional information for dipping cups and causes. The unhealthiest of these is the:

Domino’s Pizza Hot sauce. It as 150 calories, 0.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 mg of cholesterol, a whopping 1480 mg of sodium, and 3 grams of carbohydrates. Total UHI: 272.25.
And now that we’ve dealt with the unhealthiest foods, here is some information on the healthiest overall food choices. These analyses for healthiest foods overall does not include dipping cups, sauces, or beverages.


Domino’s Pizza’s Garden Fresh Salad. Each half-bowl has only 70 calories, 2.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 10 mg of cholesterol, 80 mg of salt, and 5 grams of carbohydrates. Total UHI score: 27.92. Serving size = half-bowl.


Remember, that for fair comparisons, values were calculated for a large (14”) pizza only.
Little Caeser’s 14" Round HOT-N-READY Pizza, Just Cheese. Each slice has only 240 calories, 4.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 20 mg of cholesterol, 410 mg of salt, and 30 grams of carbohydrates. Total UHI: 117.42.


These analyses exclude salads, which has already been documented above to be the healthiest item on one of the menus. When performing the analyses, it became clear that the healthiest items were in the chicken wing category but that some places used a serving size as two wings and Little Caeser’s used a serving size of one wing. Therefore, calculations were performed for TWO wings for each restaurant. Results showed that the healthiest appetizer across the five pizza chains is:
Dominos Pizza’s Buffalo Chicken Kickers . Every two wings has only 100 calories, 1 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 20 mg of cholesterol, 280 mg of salt, and 7 grams of carbohydrates. Total UHI: 68. Keep in mind that this is without adding any additional sauce.


Papa John’s Cheese Sause. Each cup (28g) of cheese has only 40 calories, 1 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 5 mg of cholesterol, 160 mg of salt, and 1 grams of carbohydrates. Total UHI: 34.


•    Dominos Pizza
•    Little Caesers
•    Papa John’s
•    Pizza Hut
•    Uno Chicago Grill (Pizzeria Uno)

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