1 March 2022

Whose is the Biggest Mac of them all?

Nutrition The Back Page

This is not an international league table you want to be near the top of.


If you thought all the world’s Big Macs were created equal, think again. Especially when it comes to calories, saturated fat and salt content. 

And Australian Maccas, take a bow, because they have just made the top 10 of the most calorific McDonald’s meals in the world. And they have the signature Big Mac burger to thank largely for that. 

Health experts at US prescription medicine company NiceRx looked at McDonald’s menus in 33 countries around the world, comparing three of their most popular items: the Big Mac, a medium fries, and (because portion sizes of chicken nuggets differ between countries) a single chicken McNugget.  

They combined the three items to create a “meal”, giving a calorific score to each country after accessing nutritional information available on the McDonald’s websites in each country. 

The results were probably not what you might expect.  

While Australia came in ninth, just behind the US and New Zealand, Japan took out the top spot with a whopping 4138kJ for the meal, followed by Canada (4025), South Korea (4008), Estonia (3895), Lithuania and Latvia (3891), New Zealand (3874), the US (3816), Australia (3782) and the Slovak Republic (3770). 

So if you consider the advice that the average Aussie adult should consume about 8700 kilojoules per day to maintain a healthy weight and maximise good health, a Big Mac, medium fries and one nugget will take out almost half of that daily recommendation.  

You could eat about nine bananas, drink about 2.5L of beer, or eat about five medium chicken breasts for the same calorific count (according to Calorie Counter Australia).  

Israel recorded the lowest calorie count for the meal of all countries included in the study (3050kJ), which was 1088 less than Japan. Other top fivers for the least calorific meal were Costa Rica, Turkey, Columbia and Mexico. 

South Korea’s Big Mac has the highest number of kilojoules (2440), Israel the lowest (1657) – a whopping difference of 783kJ. 

When it came to the fries there was a difference of 510kJ between the highest and the lowest countries, with Japan taking out the top prize (1715kJ for a medium portion) and Mexico the lowest (1205kJ). 

Australia’s Big Mac had 2360 kilojoules, which was more than the US (2301) but only a touch less than New Zealand (2377). 

When it came to saturated fat and salt content, Turkey was top of the list (with 22.2g of fat and 4.5g of salt per meal), and Israel at the bottom (5g of fat and 2.46g of salt). 

Australia didn’t fare so well either when it came to saturated fat, coming in fifth out of 33 countries, with a total of 13.4g of saturated fat per meal. We came in at number four in the salt department, with 3.5g of salt per meal. 

And if you are wondering how many kilojoules are in one chicken McNugget in Australia – it’s 180. This should take you about six minutes to walk off, or four to jog. 

If you see something that makes you crave lettuce, flick a pickle at felicity@medicalrepublic.com.au