Friday, 11 June 2010

GNC Peddles Sugar-Laden Supplement Chews

I was in GNC in Boston this afternoon, seeking nuts.

At the counter was a bowl of chews, obviously available as samples. The lady in front of me was offered one.

They're good for you - they contain omega 3, stated the GNC employee with confidence.

The bags of 'Omega 3 Soft Chews' were on sale in a bucket nearby, so I had a look at the ingredients. Main ingredient - sugar, second largest ingredient, corn syrup (see image below.)

Holy crap. I mean holy crap.

It's been a while since I moaned about the various double standards practised by so-called health food stores, with their aspartame-packed muscle formulas and 'yogurt'-coated raisins - so perhaps I have just lost my ability to shrug off this kind of cynical product development and marketing.

In case you are interested, in 2008, on The Great Cake Porn Tour, I identified GNC in New York as a peddler of nonsense health food. I also wrote in this post to the CEO of a UK health food store, Holland and Barrett, who I discovered owned GNC, raising my concerns.

So today, standing in line, I was getting ready to quiz the GNC guy when he offered me a chew.

What are the ingredients? I was going to ask.

Since sugar is bad for you and omega 3 is good, but there's more sugar than omega 3 in the chews, doesn't that mean they are NOT good for you?

...was going to be my slightly flawed, but in his world, probably watertight reply.

Alas, he never offered me a chew. He must have sensed the latent awkwardness in my face.

15 comments:

theprimalpath said...

I can't stand fake health foods. They are the worst of all because at least junk food people are aware that they are eating junk, but with the fake healthy stuff, it's like they are trying to trick people!!!

Paleo Grrrl said...

The "health" industry is so flawed nowadays that I immediately disregard anything in most "health food" stores.

The stores here in Australia are awful. My local health food store sells nothing but dried fruit, toxic wholemeal grain flours, detox packages and protein powder. To get pastured meat and dairy, I have to buy direct from farms.

I recently found out that my Vit D capsules had glucose in them. I was FURIOUS as I don't even eat fruit anymore (apart from wild berries etc) to avoid spiking my BG, so a very angry phone call was made! You have to be so careful about anything that you let past your lips...

pavlovsape said...

Arrgghhh. I winced at that.

Methuselah said...

Yes, it's the trickery that gets me - and the fact they are preying on people's weaknesses. People want an excuse to eat stuff that's sweet and GNC are simply capitalising on our weakness to sell products.

PJNOIR said...

No trick here- it says 'Chew" - and that like the word 'drink' means sugar. What is sad is nature food thought of as health foods like orange juice, bagels and the such.

Methuselah said...

I think the deception lies in giving people the impression they are doing themselves good. Even if we accept that people should realise that chews are synonymous with sugar, they are still being manipulated into believing it's okay to eat that sugar because of the omega 3 they are getting.

Meeses said...

Every time I walk into a GNC to buy vitamin D, they try to push the chews. Also, they keep rearranging their shelves so the items I want are never in the same place, and they can approach me and try to upsell more products. Argh.

Methuselah said...

The upselling drives me nuts too. It happens in other health food stores. When I hear them trotting out the gibberish about the different protein supplements it makes my toes curl. The blind leading the blind.

Hans Keer said...

It is really unbelievable what the industry is capable of doing. First they create the omega 3 hype. And then they sell the omega 3 combined with the addictive drug called sugar in an expensive packing. If the customer is lucky, there is just enough omega 3 in the chew to compensate the inflammation the sugar is causing. Watch my video http://bit.ly/ar6JLe on the quantities omega 3 and omega 6 needed.

Methuselah said...

Thanks Hans - some interesting facts there.

Elizabeth Walling said...

I also don't like the looks of the artificial flavors and dyes in these buddies. The last thing we need is more chemicals in our bods. I'm not really one to panic over a couple grams of sugar, though. Not saying these things are healthy or even remotely beneficial (you probably get a better source of omega 3s from grass-fed butter!), but three grams of sugar isn't exactly the end of the world.

Methuselah said...

Elizabeth - I agree - the amounts are small. Not sure how many chews are needed for a typical dose though

Methuselah said...

Actually, having just re-looked at the ingredients, it looks like to get 120mg of omega 3, you need to have 3g of sugar, meaning 8 or 9 chews to get 1000mg. Did I read that correctly? If so, that's a lot of sugar to get a decent dose of Omega 3!

davidh10 said...

I had EXACTLY the same conversation about this product at the GNC in the West Village!!! The guy behind the counter scoffed when I pointed to the sugar content but clammed up when I mentioned that there was a teaspoon in every "chew".

Methuselah said...

Good score David. Always works when you put things in everyday terms.

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