1) Food labels list the ingredients included from the greatest to the least. Manufacturers don’t want consumers to know how much sugar is contained in their product, so many include and list a dozen or more unique sugars to give a false idea of how much sugar is really present. Most consumers don’t know the technical names of most sugars and don’t notice the numerous other sugars listed near the bottom of the exhaustive ingredient list. For a list of the more common sugar impersonators, see: Top 18 Sugar Impersonators ....
2) Most protein bars are simply candy bars with added nutrients. Are all the calories, fat, and sugar worth consuming for the small amount of protein and fiber? As in any product, always avoid the exaggerated and deceptive claims on the front of all colorful and alluring food packaging. Turn the box over and evaluate the ingredient list and nutrition info.
3) Liquid meal replacements like Ensure and Boost should only be served to the elderly who need a serious calorie boost as well as vitamins and minerals. Many dieticians consider them essentially fortified melted ice cream. Most popular offerings contain twice the calories and 1.5 times the sugar as an equivalent glass of cola.
4) “GMO-free” banners on products are misleading in many cases. Oat based breakfast cereals that make this claim are deceiving the public. Scientists have still not been able to produce genetically modified oats! They don’t exist! The GMO claim refers to the tiny amounts of sugar and cornstarch in the product.
5) Nutrition-facts panels are not standardized. This means manufacturers can base the nutrition info on any serving size they choose. Many deceptively choose an unreasonably small serving size to make the info more palatable. Consumers need to do some mental arithmetic to find the actual numbers for a full serving.
6) Most yogurt brands make excessive and unsubstantiated health claims on their packaging and media advertising. The reality is that most of them contain as many or more fat, calories, and sugar as regular ice cream or chocolate bars. Danon’s Greek Yogurt recently received the SICK Award – Social Irresponsibility toward Consumers and Kids. This award “alerts consumers to the millions of dollars restaurant chains and food manufacturers spend on misleading advertising and other efforts that push unhealthful foods.” Danon is a repeat offender in deceptive ads. In 2009 and 2010 they were fined more than $50 million for exaggerated and false claims related to the “amazing” effects of probiotics in their products. http://www.pcrm.org/media/news/dannon-social-irresponsibility-award
7) Fake news sites are set up by some supplement manufacturers to legitimize their exaggerated and often completely false claims. According to the FDA: “More and more, scam artists are exploiting people’s trust in well-known news organizations by creating fake news sites that use the logos of legitimate news organizations or sound-a-like names and web addresses.” Marketers of acai berry dietary supplements are just the recent catch of the day: http://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0299-fake-news-sites-promote-acai-supplements
8) Recently, many garden vegetable sliced bread products have hit the market. You’ll be surprised how many vegetables are REALLY in the bread!
9) Nutella contains 94 hazelnuts in every jar – but is it good for you? Two tablespoons of Nutella equals 5 Oreo cookies!
10) You should drink Coca-Cola – Grandpa’s version!
Wendy Haaf, “Are You Being Health-Washed?” Good Times, May 2014
Dr. Yoni Freedhoff’s site: http://www.weightymatters.ca/