Friday, June 29, 2012

Calories and Combos

I guess this posting is a little bit about social responsibility. Now don't get me wrong. I believe that we're the captains of our own ships; but I also believe that we have a right to a clear view of the sea ahead.

I am more than a bit calorie-conscious. I think that one has to be, in order to be successful for very long in losing weight, after all. And one game that Jack and I have been playing of late is to guess how many calories in things. We frequently chuckle about serving sizes, too.

For example, a candy bar might say that it contains a mere 175 calories per serving. But, upon closer inspection, we see that this candy bar actually contains "2.5 servings." So this candy bar, which a person normally would just eat as a serving, actually contains 438 calories! It's a fun game, and we're always surprised at the results.

We were in Lowe's yesterday and were looking at the alluring display of snacks, placed cleverly by the cash register, easy for the working men and women to pick up on their way back out to their job site. We've done that, too.

One of their snacks was Nacho Cheese Combos. The calorie count was a modest 130 calories. The bag size looks like something that I could easily eat for a snack. But the bag contains *seven* servings! Seven! This comes to 910 calories -- 3/4 of my daily calorie allotment. And this is for a food that is otherwise a nutritional wasteland with no discernable vitamins, little protein, little fiber, and plenty of salt and fat. The per-bag sodium content comes to 2170mg, which is more than most of us should have in a day.

Ok so it's junk food. Where's the problem? Just don't eat it if you don't want it, right? Well, ok, but I maintain that the snack makers, package designers, and even Lowe's are not playing fair. The bag looks like a snack-size bag. Most people would assume that it's a snack-sized bag, since it's being displayed next to bags of chips and candy bars.

Even if someone were to take a glance at the nutrition label, they'd first see the 130 calories and think... "Not so bad -- let's go for it!" without continuing on to discover the seven-serving-secret.

I'm not intending to pick on Combos; all of the snack foods are doing this same thing -- packaging large quantities in one bag and then marketing these in the grab-and-go section right next to single-serving portions of other snacks.

I have a better idea for all of these marketers and for Lowe's, Home Depot, and Menards. Sell a "Job Site Package." This would consist of a larger box (or bag) of serving-sized portion bags. Of course, someone could still eat seven servings of the things, but they'd at least have a fighting chance of knowing what they were doing.