Taco Bell is advertising a new campaign called the Drive Thru Diet with a spokesperson, Christine Dougherty, who claims to have lost over 50 pounds of weight by eating the lower calorie “fresco” options available on the Taco Bell menu.

Fresco is merely an elimination of cheese, which is substituted with pico de gallo (salsa) instead.  The biggest difference between fresco menu items and regular menu items is calorie-count, not grams of fat.

Taco-bell.jpgDid Dougherty really lose all the weight while eating tacos?  Is this an unhealthy New Year’s resolution promotion?

We have seen this crash diet before from Subway – Jared lost his weight by selecting healthy alternatives at the fast food chain; currently, Jared is trying to shed 40 pounds he gained over the years.

Taco Bell doesn’t provide any nutritional information on the daily nutrients and vitamins the Fresco menu offers.  The majority of options available on the menu equal high sodium intake; none rank favorable in dietary fiber.

The American Heart Association recommends a daily total of fewer than 2300 milligrams (mg) of sodium per day–eating two Drive Thru Diet Fresco Burritos would max out sodium intake for the day.

On the Taco Bell Web site is a disclaimer stating Dougherty’s results are not typical and that the items featured on the “fresco” menu are not low calorie food:  “For a healthier lifestyle, pay attention to total calorie and fat intake and exercise regularly.  ‘Fresco’ can help with calorie reductions of 20 to 100 per item compared to corresponding products on the regular menu.  Not a low calorie food.”

The diet does not teach about portion control or provide information about why people over eat, but Taco Bell does provide caloric content of the ‘fresco’ menu on the company Web site.

Overall, the Fresco diet is not a safe and healthy diet option.   Consuming fewer calories a day by patronizing a drive thru doesn’t signify weight loss achieved through this option is healthy.

It is clear that the Taco Bell Drive Thru Diet is not a diet at all.  The disclaimer states so in the fine print of the ad:  “Taco Bell Drive Thru Diet is not a weight loss program.  Pay attention to the total calorie and fat intake and exercise regularly.”

What was left out of the above statement is advice to monitor intake of preservatives and additives that are high in sodium and other health-inhibiting factors.