Fruit Loopery in Nutrition

In the process of getting my PhD thesis closer and closer to submission I have gone a little loopy. This must be why, on a whim, I bought a box of Froot Loops. This morning, for the first time in my adult life I poured myself a tiny bowl of red, orange, yellow, green, purple and blue rings. They were OK, but the combination of the crystallised sugar and super-crunchiness has left me with broken skin on the roof of my mouth.

I first tried Froot Loops as a child, when I begged my mother to buy a box. She complied, but I was only allowed to eat them on a Saturday, after I’d eaten a piece of Vegemite on toast. Back then, there were only 3 flavours (orange, lemon and cherry?) and I seem to remember the rings were a lot bigger.  I wanted to like them, really I did, but something about the combination of artificial citrus flavour with milk was revolting. Suffice to say, I learnt my lesson and didn’t nag my mother for child-oriented cereal again. At least until Frostie Flakes came on the market…

Of course, there have been many lawsuits in regards to the allegation that Froot Loops do not really contain fruit (No! Really?). Believe it. My favourite of the bunch involves Roy Werbel of San Francisco, who, in 2009 claimed he bought a box of the cereal and was misled into believing he was buying fruit. Other people have tried the same argument, and each time the case has been thrown out of court, but Roy keeps trying. He has also attempted to sue several other breakfast cereal manufacturers.

What Roy apparently doesn’t know is that fruit isn’t healthy anyway. At least, this is what recent media hype would have us believe. The Sunday Age recently published an article entitled ''Is fruit making us fat?'' (6/11/11). It seems that fruit is now the latest food group that we are supposed to restrict from our diets in order to stay slim. The reasoning is that fruit has too much sugar and carbohydrates, and so we shouldn’t eat so much because those things make you fat. Thankfully, I wasn’t the only reader to find this approach to restricting fruit just a bit loopy as plenty of readers expressed their outrage.

So, if actual fruit is “bad”, surely fruit-flavoured sugary cereal is pure candy coated evil?  In the interests of finding out just how nutritionally dodgy Froot Loops are, I did a bit of research and was shocked at what I found.

Firstly, Froot Loops get an ‘A’ rating on caloriecount.com because they are ‘high’ in fiber, and ‘very high’ in iron, niacin, riboflavin, thiamine, and vitamins B6, B12 and C.

In 2009, the New York Times published this article about how the breakfast cereal managed to get a green tick on the Smart Choices food labelling campaign. Dr Eileen T. Kennedy, president of the Smart Choices board, who is apparently not paid for her contributions, asked us to consider the following hypothetical: a parent is rushing around a supermarket looking for something healthy to feed the kids and s/he is faced with either a doughnut or a cereal. Technically, the Froot Loops cereal is a healthier choice, so it gets a tick. Oh, the problems of the First World!

Kellogs also reason is that just because a product is very high in sugar, this doesn’t mean all the other added ingredients aren’t wonderful. This seems a bit like David Green saying Coke is nutritious because it contains water (Klein, 2001; Ward, 2003).

So long as you add vitamin C and A to sawdust, that’s healthy too. So maybe Marjorie Dawes actually has it right- just eat dust. Vitamin enriched dust.

Notes

Klein, N. (2001). No logo. London: Flamingo.

Ward. L. (2003). Foolish Words: The most stupid words ever spoken.London: PRC Publishing.

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