“Happy” Calories and “Healthy” Cookies–Corporations Try to Rationalize Sugar

Today I am the food curmudgeon.

To listen in on the crazy rationalizing food companies are doing these days, you would think that the obesity epidemic is all related to our irresponsible selves badly, badly abusing the fine foods they produce. Now, I’m all for sharing responsibility, but really? Check it out:

“Sharing a laugh with friends.” That is part of Coca-Cola’s solution to curbing the weight gain resulting from drinking soda. I kid you not. Apparently, we are a nation plagued with obesity because we are not laughing enough. Or dancing enough. Whatevs, it is NOT because of the ¬†free soda refill, celebrity endorsements of high sugar sodas (I’m talking to you, Beyonc√©) or the fact that a 12 pack of soda is often cheaper than any beverage outside of tap water.

In an upcoming series of commercials intended to make Coca Cola “a part of the conversation” about obesity, the company will release ads that feature ways to burn off the 140 “happy calories” in a soda. Say what the what? “Happy” calories? Is there “joyful” diabetes, too? That kind of marketing b.s. masks the true nature of soda beverages and conveniently moves the burden of responsibility off the company and squarely on the consumer (it’s not our product, it’s your laziness).

Which brings us to”laughing with friends”. Coca-Cola is trying to convince consumers that there are easy, fun ways to burn off the “happy calories” of their sodas. And “laughing with friends” is on the list. Hmmm, could laughing really be the answer? According to ask.com, it would take a full 60 minutes of constant laughing to burn off one 140-calorie soda (that’s a 12 oz. soda, no refills). One hour of non-stop laughing. Who does that? You would also have to dance for 30 minutes straight to burn off one soda. That’s just burning off the beverage–it doesn’t include any food you eat. Like a cookie…

Speaking of cookies, Girl Scouts have a new mango creme cookie with something called “nutrifusion” that adds vitamins and fruit extracts to make their addictive cookies a bit “healthier.” My own troop was pretty grossed out to find that “nutrifusion” includes mushroom extract, although they were ok with the actual cookie taste. But instead of including any real fruit, the cookies (which still include a good deal of saturated fat and processed sugar) include hyper-processed fruit extracts. It’s bad enough to send kids out there hawking unhealthy food (if you see us coming, you can always say no), but to pretend that a cookie is something other than an unhealthy dessert food is ridiculous. Here’s my idea: let’s just call it a “cookie” and put the calorie content on the front of the box. Or better yet, give the girls something to sell that doesn’t include saturated fats and sugar. For a wonderful perspective on this, see THIS article from The Lunch Tray.

You can put mushrooms in a cookie or claim some calories are “happy,” but at the end of the day, it’s still the same thing–unhealthy, sugar-laden food that contributes to our ongoing national health issues. And there’s nothing really happy about that.

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