March 27, 2008

Argentina: The Whole Grain Trap

Despite being on the other side of the Equator, Argentina shares some nutrition similarities with the United States.

I took this photo at supermarket chain Disco because, if anything, it shows that marketing to children -- and their parents -- is a global phenomenon.

The box you see on your right is for Nesquik cereal -- in essence, chocolate flavored corn puffs.

But wait, what does that huge sign at the bottom say? Translated to English:

"All Nestlé breakfast cereals now made with whole grains."

Note the "made with" whole grains (although whole wheat flour and oats are included, so is standard white flour).

Sugar is the second ingredient, by the way.

The nutrition label reveals that a 1-ounce (1 cup) serving provides:

114 calories
1.1 gram of fat
200 milligrams of sodium

1.5 grams of fiber

10.5 grams (2.5 teaspoons) of sugar

3 grams of protein

Is it absolute junk food? I wouldn't be so harsh.

What is very frustrating, though, is that the big hoopla about whole grains is nothing but a desperate marketing strategy aimed at parents.

You would think a food so boastful of its whole grain content would at least offer 3 grams of fiber per serving.

To put this into context, a cup of this cereal contains as much fiber as a mere half banana or half an orange.

By the way, the standard calculation for children's fiber needs is: child's age plus five.

So, a 10 year needs approximately 15 grams of fiber a day.

Starting the morning off with a cup of Nesquik cereal and half a cup of milk (regardless of its fat content) represents a mere ten percent of that child's daily requirement!

I am not calling for parents to ban these kinds of cereals from their cupboards.

I do, however, want them to recognize these as sweet treats, NOT healthy sources of fiber.

No comments: