Drive Thru Diet®, the Taco Bell Diet®
- I originally published this March 3, 2010 – nine years ago. ‘
- DriveThruDiet.com is currently for sale for $14.888 USD.
- ‘Fresco Menu’ still available, still a good idea.
To be clear about this editorial and opinion piece, please understand – I’m not bashing Taco Bell – I have personally enjoyed items from their Fresco menu for many years. I may go to Taco Bell once or twice a month, though – not once or twice a day.
And I certainly don’t consider anything on their menu to be a smart approach to weight loss.
This site is about bone health, and my opinion is very clear: The DriveThruDiet® will not support long-term good bone health, so don’t add this as part of your plan to reduce the bone loss of osteopenia and osteoporosis.
Why do I say this? Because of the high sodium content and the very small amount of green leafy veggies in each serving.
Let’s just go directly to the small print on the official Drive-Thru-Diet® / Taco Bell Diet® /Fresco Diet Menu page:, and let’s make it big:
“Drive-Thru-Diet® is not a weight-loss program.”
“For a healthier lifestyle, pay attention to total calorie and fat intake and regular exercise. Taco Bell’s® Fresco Menu can help with calorie reductions of 20 to 100 per item compared to corresponding products on our regular menu. Not a low calorie food.”
Okay, so that takes them off the hook – they are telling us clearly that the DriveThruDiet® really isn’t a diet at all. And in addition to total calories and fat, I think they should also address other nutrients as well, both good and bad. For example, we need sodium, but there are limits.
You could argue that this really is a diet in the sense that we have come to understand the term in the USA. And in that sense, the Drive Thru Diet® begins and ends with most other ‘diets’, among the rest that rarely if every are successful or just plain don’t work, like the ‘cookie diet’ and the ‘ice cream diet’.
But we already know this.
There is another link on the “Drive-Thru-Diet®” page that goes to Taco Bell’s “Fourth-Meal®” page. It shows images of other Taco Bell® menu items, with plenty of sodium and perhaps more fat than one should be eating anytime of day, especially between dinner and breakfast.
But that’s just my opinion… you can check it out for yourself.
Take a look at the Taco Bell® Nutrition Calculator. Yes, some items have less fat than others, but take a look at the sky-high levels of sodium, even those on the Fresco ‘diet’ menu.
Once again, if you follow the money, you’ll find it leads to corporate strategies intended to increase sales, usually without regard to the effect this will have on the real health of real people.
And we are talking about a lot of money here. According to “Market Busters: 40 Strategic Moves That Drive Exceptional Business Growth,” published by the Harvard Business School Press, this strategy can bring big dollars to corporate pockets.
For example, back in 2000, Subway® promoted the possibility of weight loss by eating Subway® sandwiches everyday, using the success of Jared Fogle, who became their spokesperson about this.
Before-and-after images of Fogle, who lost 245 pounds in a year, helped boost Subway’s® per store sales growth to seven times the industry average in 2000 and nearly doubled their previous year’s sales.
This kind of growth is huge any way you look at it.
Fast-food corporations around the world could only watch from the sidelines as dollars they had expected to come their direction flowed toward Subway instead.
Cash-flow growth like Subway® had achieved must have given advertising executives some mouth-watering dreams of doing the same thing with tacos and burritos.
So now, Taco Bell® is making a “Run For The Money” with a similar example, using one person’s success to sell more fast food. As noted above, this is a “Strategic Move That Drives Exceptional Business Growth.”
This is about money; this is not about your health.
Health experts and dietitians agree, for example, that right or wrong, Taco Bell’s® new campaign can seriously influence Americans who spend a great deal on fast food from their cars each year.
According to Tom Wagner, vice president of Consumer Insights for Taco Bell®, “The entire restaurant industry is $390 billion a year, fast food is $230 billion of that.” He adds, “Seventy percent of business is on the drive-thru.”
Short and memorable, I think “DriveThruDiet®.com” will prove to be a tremendous marketing tool for Taco Bell®, and provide profits they want in exchange for generally misleading consumers.
It’s amazing what a pile of money can do.
And Taco Bell® has poured piles of advertising money on this, hopeful of Subway®-like growth.
Although the line of “Fresco” burritos and tacos has existed for six years, most Taco Bell® customers aren’t aware of it because it wasn’t shown on the main menu before – you had to ask for it.
Now it is prominently placed on the menu, and is promoted so that people know about it and are reminded at the point-of-order to ask for it.
And while people with the will-power of Christine may have success with the DriveThruDiet®, they need to avoid the up-sells to larger portions, and to avoid the standard menu items with higher fat content.
They must also avoid beverages whether they are made with high-fructose corn syrup or artificial sweeteners.
And I suspect no corporate-owned drive-through on the planet, including Subway® and Taco Bell®, will spend a dime on teaching people to avoid the profitable up-sells and the other nutritional traps.