by Marion Nestle
Sep 1 2016

Clever food industry ploy: look-alike snacks

Jennifer Harris and colleagues at the Rudd Center have a study out in Obesity on how food companies are making products to meet the USDA’s nutrition standards for snack foods—but look just like the original products that don’t.

These, the press release says, are confusing to parents and children.

A fact sheet provides the evidence.

Students believed that look-alike Smart Snacks and the less-nutritious versions of the brands sold in stores were similar in healthfulness and expected them to taste the same.

No wonder.

This, of course, is the result of “nutritionism,” the defining of the healthfulness of a food by its content of specific nutrients—vitamins, salt, sugar, saturated fat.

The “healthier” versions raise the question: Is a slightly better-for-you product a good choice?

Not necessarily, alas.

This is why food-based standards make more sense.  Snack foods have a place in kids diets, but ideally a small one.

  • RB

    Instead of asking “Is a slightly better-for-you product a good choice?”, shouldn’t the question really be “Is a product that is slightly less bad for you any better of a choice?” Making a bad product slightly less bad is nothing to get excited about.

  • Farmer with a Dell

    Food-based standards are clearly the problem here…and the threat.

    This study accomplishes little more than demonstrate the marketing concept of branding. The chief complaint seems to be food police are appalled to discover the brands they oppose are being reformulated to meet or exceed established nutrition standards and are being successfully marketed, while the brands food police endorse are not being successfully marketed (and perhaps not even offered in some schools). Brand favoritism. That’s what food-based standards are all about and that is why they are wrong-headed and potentially corrupting.

    Your dreaded “nutrtionism” remains the gold standard for evaluating the nutritional value of foods and, had public health educators not failed so miserably, “nutritionism” could as well have become the gold standard for evaluating society’s perceived value of foods. Science stands squarely behind “nutritionism”, not so much behind food-based favoritism.

    This report merely documents yet another failure of the food police to understand what is truly important and to sincerely promote the general public’s understanding, instead frittering away their time and effort obsessed with jamming preferred labels down our throats. You conniving fools failed at educating and you will fail at dictating…you are dedicated losers.

  • Rob Bright

    Kinda like having to choose between Trump and Hillary…?


  • patzagame

    nothing is more nutritious about any of those snacks,they all contain GE food ingredients!

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