Health $ Lifestyle

McDonalds, US vs UK! How the menus really compare, from calories in a Big Mac to sugar in a chocolate milkshake (and the results might shock you!)

  • Burgers, breakfasts and shakes contain hundreds more calories in US chain
  • Fast-food chain sells items that are over daily limit for sugar and saturated fat 

It’s loved on both sides of the Atlantic.

But while McDonald’s mouth-watering menus are almost identical in the UK and US, the calories, saturated fat and salt loaded into its burgers, fries and drinks can vary dramatically. 

For example, one large strawberry milkshake in the US has nearly 400 calories more than the same drink in the UK.

Meanwhile, the McCrispy — a chicken burger with lettuce and mayo — has nearly an extra 1g of salt in America compared to Britain.

MailOnline audited more than 20 products sold on both sides of the pond… and the results were fascinating.

 At stores in the UK, a large strawberry milkshake contains 458 calories.

But in the US, the large option has a whopping 850 calories.

This means Brits can tuck into a McChicken burger and the milkshake and still have consumed fewer calories than having the shake alone in the US.

However, while a large McDonald’s drink in Britain is 500ml, it is about 20 fl oz (591ml) in America. 

But the drink alone accumulates to nearly half of the 2,000 calories the average woman is advised to have per day to maintain a healthy weight and a third of the 2,500 recommended for the typical man.

The US option also has an extra 33g of sugar (107g vs 74g) and more than double the saturated fat (13g vs 6.3g) compared to the UK.

To put that into context, British health chiefs recommend consuming no more than 30g of free sugars each day, which are those added to food and drink. However, some of the sugar in milkshake will be natural.

Too much sugar increases the risk of tooth decay and weight gain. 

Both menus are full of calories and loaded with fat, salt and sugar, but the US packs the most calories into it's food, an audit of more than 20 products shows

Both menus are full of calories and loaded with fat, salt and sugar, but the US packs the most calories into it’s food, an audit of more than 20 products shows

Tucking into pancakes and sausage with syrup in the US will also set you back many more calories than in the UK. In both nations, the breakfast option includes three pancakes, topped butter and syrup, and served with a sausage patty on the side. 

A serving has 584 calories in the UK but a mammoth 770 calories in the US.

The indulgent breakfast also contains an extra 8.3g of saturated fat when consumed in the US (12g vs 3.7g) and an extra 5g of sugar (46g vs 41g).

Brits are told to limit saturated fat to 20g for women and 30g for men, as eating too much over time can increase cholesterol, which in turn raises the risk of heart attacks and strokes.

McDonald’s burgers have similar calorie content on either side of the pond. 

However, the biggest discrepancy is for the Big Mac, which is padded out with an additional 97 calories in the US (590 vs 493 calories).

Only four of the 22 food items included in this website’s audit have more calories in the UK than the US and these options only had up to 14 extra calories.

McDonald’s products in the US are also generally packed with more salt. The McCrispy has 2.85g, compared to 1.9g in the UK.

Additionally, the Double Quarter Pounder with cheese (0.8g extra), six Chicken McNuggets (0.68g extra) and McNuggets Happy Meal (0.51g extra) all have more salt in the US. 

Eating too much salt, more than 6g per day for adults, can cause high blood pressure, which increases the risk of heart attacks and strokes.

UK vs US McDonald’s menu
McDonald’s product UK calories UK salt UK fat UK sat fat UK sugars US calories US salt US fat US sat fat US sugars
Big mac 493 2.2g 24g 8.8g 9.4g 590 2.6g 34g 11g 9g
Quarter pounder with cheese 507 2.7g 26g 12g 10g 520 2.85g 26g 12g 10g
Double quarter pounder with cheese 739 3.2g 42g 19g 10g 740 4g 42g 20g 10g
Cheeseburger 298 1.7g 12g 5.5g 7g 300 1.8g 13g 6g 7g
Double cheeseburger 438 2.6g 22g 11g 7.8g 450 2.8g 24g 11g 7g
Hamburger 251 1.2g 8.3g 3.3g 6.3g 250 1.27g 9g 3.5g 6g
McChicken 369 1.3g 15g 1.5g 6.3g 400 1.4g 21g 3.5g 5g
Filet-o-fish 319 1.6g 12g 2.3g 4.8g 390 1.45g 19g 4g 5g
McCrispy 484 1.9g 18g 2g 6.9g 470 2.85g 20g 5g 9g
6 piece chicken McNuggets 261 0.57g 13g 1.5g 0.6g 250 1.25g 15g 2.5g 0g
McDonald’s Large Fries 444 0.82g 22g 2g 0.8g 480 1g 23g 3g 0g
Sausage & egg McMuffin 423 1.8g 23g 8.3g 3.2g 480 2g 31g 12g 2g
Hash brown 127 0.64g 7.4g 0.7g 0.2g 140 0.77g 8g 1g 0g
Pancakes & Syrup/ hotcakes 456 1.5g 2g 0.4g 41g 580 1.3g 15g 6g 45g
Pancakes & sausage with syrup 584 2.1g 11g 3.7g 41g 770 2g 33g 12g 46g
hamburger happy meal 410 1.56g 13g 6.2g 24.1g 475 1.7g 16g 5.5g 20g
McNuggets happy meal 333 0.74g 13.4g 3.9g 18.2g 395 1.25g 17g 3.5g 14g
Apple pie 243 0.31g 14g 3g 9.2g 230 0.25g 11g 6g 14g
Oreo McFlury 258 0.27g 9g 5.5g 32g 510 0.65g 16g 8g 60g
Strawberry milkshake 458 0.53g 9g 6.3g 74g 850 0.77g 21g 13g 107g
Chocolate milkshake 468 0.85g 10g 6.8g 65g 800 0.97g 20g 13g 106g
Vanilla Milkshake 469 0.51g 9g 6.3g 77g 780 0.9g 19g 12g 85g

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