Taco Bell Institutes A "Fourthmeal"

Ask people to name the three meals in a day, and they can do it without any problem.  But ask them about the 'fourthmeal', and very few of them know what you're talking about.

Signs are popping up on Taco Bells across the country advertising late night hours where Americans can pop in for a 'Fourthmeal,' a meal the company says comes between dinner and breakfast. They hope it will eventually be as popular as brunch.

Health care workers we spoke with were alarmed by Taco Bells 'Fourthmeal' campaign. They say with one-half of adult Americans overweight, and one-third of children overweight, the last thing Americans need is a 'Fourthmeal.'

Registered dietician Monica Penkilo with UT Health Center says a healthy diet consists of three balanced meals a day plus a couple of low calorie snacks. She says if you're eating at 1:00 or 2:00 in the morning, like Taco Bell is promoting, you should try finding a healthier alternative.

"The lowest calorie value meal item I could find was 180 calories, and it was small, spicy chicken taco.  Make yourself a small bowl of cereal. That'll carry you through the morning. Have a sandwich. Pop a bag of popcorn.  These are some things that would be a lot healthier," says Penkilo.

Rob Poetsch is the Director of Public Relations for Taco Bell.

He says the 'Fourthmeal' campaign is simply a way to stand out in the sea of other late night fast food options.

"The 'Fourthmeal' campaign is not encouraging people to eat a literal fourth meal. It is actually branding a meal that people are already eating," says Poetsch.

Only time will tell if Americans will adopt the 'Fourthmeal.'  If they do, it may add to their rapidly expanding waist lines.

Dieticians define low calorie snacks as anything less than 150 calories. Only one item on the Taco Bell menu meets that requirement. That's the crunchy beef taco without the cheese.

For more nutritional information, go to the Know More On 7 section of our website and look for the Taco Bell link.

Lindsay Wilcox/Reporting: lwilcox@kltv.com