Saturday, June 5, 2010


I was watching TV this morning when a Nutella comercial came on and was reminded of a conversation I had with another mom at our ballet studio... First of all Nutella's been around for years and years, but it wasn't untill recently (the past month or so) that they really started pushing their comercials here in the US.

Don't know what Nutella is? Well it's this chocolaty, hazel-nutty spread, that has a cult-like following. People love Nutella for its balance of savory and sweet, and its versatility: You can put it inside crepes, atop waffles, eat it straight out of the jar with a spoon or bake with it. Delicious? Yes! Nutritious? Probably not.

As the comercial states: “As a mom, I’m a great believer in Nutella, a delicious hazelnut spread that I can use to get my kids to eat healthy foods. I spread a little on all kinds of healthy things, like multi-grain toast. Every jar has wholesome, quality ingredients, like hazelnuts, skim milk, and a hint of delicious cocoa. And Nutella has no artificial colors or preservatives. It’s quick. It’s easy. And at breakfast, I can’t use all the help I can get.”

Her narration made me laugh. They’re trying awfully hard to make it sound good for you. The interesting thing about the comercial is that it seems to suggest that it is some sort of health food. Although I've loved Nutella for years, I hardly ever eat it because it's so UNHEALTHY! HaHa. No seriously, I downed a whole jar during the last month of my husband's 2nd deployment and gained 10 lbs! Seriously.

I think it is highly irresponsible of Nutella to imply that their spread is healthier than it actually is, especially as the ad clearly encourages parents to give it to their children for breakfast. And I find it misleading to tell people about the hazelnuts, skimmed milk and cocoa, but not mention that it's over half sugar!

The message seems to be that you can get your kids to eat wholegrain bread and other healthy foods by slathering them with Nutella, which contains lots of fat and sugar. The commercial also implies that Nutella is mainly hazelnuts and milk. However, hazelnuts only make up 13% of Nutella, and skimmed milk makes up less than 7%. So while there are a few hazelnuts and at least some skimmed milk products in Nutella, they are drastically outnumbered by the other, less wholesome ingredients such as SUGAR, which is acrually the top ingrediant of the incrediant list. the second most common ingredient in Nutella is palm oil. The same palm oil which is high in palmitic acid, a fatty acid which the World Health Organization claims is convincingly linked to increased risk of cardiovascular disease (see the report here, and skip to page 98 for the info on palmitic acid). In fact, roughly half the calories in Nutella are from sugar, and the other half are from fat and only about 4% of the calories are from protein. According to the nutrition label, a single 37 gram serving of Nutella (two tablespoons) contains 11 grams of fat and 21 grams of sugar. Half of the 200 calories in each serving come from fat.

The Nutella website also suggests that Nutella is healthy because it "is made with hazelnuts which are a great source of vitamins." Note that they don't say that Nutella is a great source of vitamins, because it's not. A single serving has 0% of the recommended daily intake of Vitamins A and C, and just 10% of the recommended intake of Vitamin E.

But is smearing healthy foods with f atty, sugary substances a good diet strategy for kids? What’s next? Asparagus dipped in chocolate?

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