Friday, February 17, 2012

candy bars

snickers candy bar | photo: FightinG FalcoN
It's in the news.  Mars has announced that it will stop selling king or super-sized candy bars.  They are now only going to sell candy bars with 250 or less calories in them.   Quite honestly I'm annoyed about this announcement.  My initial response is that they are pandering to the public.  In their press announcement the company states, "Mars has a broad-based commitment to health and nutrition."

I'm not convinced they do.  Let's remember, their job is to sell candy.  And they're going to try to convince you that their candy is a healthier choice than that of another brand.  But whatever they say, and whatever they do, the bottom line is that they need you to buy their candy.

These super-sized candy bars are a problem.  A king-sized snickers bar is supposedly three servings, each one containing 170 calories, 8 grams of fat and 18 grams of sugar.  Eat the whole thing and you are getting a whopping 510 calories, 24 grams of fat and 54 grams of sugar.  Not a good thing.

It's pretty much a given that we are programmed to finish our food.  I'm guessing that the vast majority of people who open a king-size candy bar wind up finishing the whole thing.  In that regard downsizing could be a good thing.  If Mars limits their candy bars to be no more than 250 calories (regardless of how many servings) that's less than half of what king-size candy bar consumers are currently getting.

Before we get all excited about that, however, we have to look at the ingredient list of a snickers bar:
    Milk chocolate (sugar, cocoa butter, chocolate, lactose, skim milk, milkfat, soy lecithin, artificial flavor), peanuts, corn syrup, sugar, skim milk, butter, milkfat, vegetable oil (partially hydrogenated soybean and/or hydrogenated palm kernel oil), lactose, salt, egg whites, artificial flavor
It contains trans fats (remember anything partially-hydrogenated is a trans fat) and that's a problem.  Mars claims that they will eventually be removing these from their products but for now they are still in there.  And they're using what I call tricky math.  The label claims that if you eat one serving of a king-size snickers you get 0g trans fats.  That's because the government allows .49 g and less per serving to be considered zero.  Eat three servings and you could potentially be eating almost 1.5 g of trans fats.  That added up quickly for a product that supposedly had no trans fats at all.

Next we look at the soy lecithin, soybean oil, and corn syrup.  These are, in all likelihood, from genetically modified crops.  Those of you who have been reading the blog for a while know that I am vigorously opposed to the use of GMO's in our food.  Unfortunately the government does not believe that consumers have the right to know what's in their food and does not require manufacturers to label the source.  Better to avoid them to the best of your ability.

Then there's the artificial flavor.  We don't need that, it's not good for us, and we shouldn't be eating it.

So while Mars claims to have a "broad based commitment to health and nutrition" the answer is, not really.


Jenifer Harrod said...

I liked this post. I was very sweet:) I don't eat chocolate bars because they have too much sugar and they contain chocolate and I can't eat that because it makes my heart race. But maybe I can share this with others for their health.

Sam said...

I wonder just how long this "ban on king size" will last. I bet not more than a year. They make too much money on these sizes to stop selling them.