Shame on you Coles

Shame on you Coles
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Shame on you Coles

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How much sugar is too much and does Coles have a responsibility to reduce your intake?

The cover of the April Coles magazine has the headline “Take the 7-Day Breakfast Challenge”. Inside, it follows this up with a weekly meal plan of breakfast recipes and encourages us that “starting the day with a nourishing meal is one of the best things you can do for your health”.

This is very good advice.

The meal plan gets off to a good start with a breakfast of boiled eggs, avocado and wholemeal toast but rapidly declines from there into meal suggestions using maple-flavoured syrup, fruit juice and flavoured yoghurt. Helpfully, they include the sugar content of each serving so a quick calculation gives us the total amount that you would consume in a week if you followed their plan.

How much do you think it adds up to?

60 teaspoons.

This is the amount of sugar you would consume if you followed the Coles magazine 7 day Breakfast Planner.

Yes, that’s 60 teaspoons of sugar – just for breakfast – in one week. This is the sugar equivalent of eating a Mars Bars for breakfast every day.

Shame on you Coles.

W8less posted their concerns onto the Coles Facebook page and this is the discussion so far:

From Coles:

Hi W8less, we’re sorry to learn that you’re not a fan of our breakfast planner recipes. We’re aware that our customers are mindful of their health which is why we recently introduced our new Coles Simply Less range into our stores. We also have a wide variety of recipes available on our Coles recipes page. We appreciate you taking the time to provide us with your feedback.

The next day, Coles replied again:

From Coles:

Hi W8less, we shared your comment with our Nutritionist and she has advised that the majority of the sugar in the recipes comes from fruit. The calories average 250-350 per recipe, which is healthy. We’re always looking for ways to promote a balanced diet and we think fruit plays an important role in that.

Hmmm.

From W8less

I appreciate your reply and acknowledge that the sugar debate rages on with strong opinions on both sides. I have been a nutritionist for 20 years and every day I see first hand the effect a high sugar diet has on people’s health: weight gain, food cravings and poor energy just to name a few.

Sugar is sugar and the source of it becomes irrelevant at the level your 7 Day Planner recommends. Some of the sugar does come from whole fruit but much of it also comes from fruit juice, flavoured yoghurt and maple-flavoured syrup.

The meals might be low in calories but it is the source, and not the amount, of calories which has the greatest impact on health. When even the CEO of Weight Watchers admits that “calorie counting has become unhelpful” I think it’s time to let go of that being the deciding factor of whether a food is good or not.

It’s not up to Coles to play health watch dog for the nation, but when the rest of the world is slowly waking up to the fact that sugar is a problem, surely it can promote recipes and meals which are not full it?

Conclusion:
Sugar is problem for most people irrespective of its source. While the nutritional benefits of eating some whole fruit every day are undeniable, creating recipes with fruit juice, flavoured sugar syrup and sugar laden yoghurt and then passing them off as “nourishing” is irresponsible. Fulling back onto the “but they’re low calorie” argument perpetuates the problem. It is not the amount of calories but the source of them which matters. We all know this and the science backs it up.

I repeat: Shame on you Coles.

What do you think? Is 60 teaspoons too much? Does Coles have a responsibility to limit the sugar it recommends?

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