Well they’re doing it again. When the New Year rolls around, Big Food companies start peddling their insane weight loss programs filled with leanwashed, “healthy” food options. It’s pretty ironic if you think about it—the very same processed food companies that mislead us into eating more and more empty calories then turn around and sell us even more processed foods that pretend to help us lose weight. Much like the carpetbaggers who went South for political and financial gain after the Civil War, these weight loss carpetbaggers don’t really solve any problems. They just profit from them.
One of the most insidious of these carpetbaggers is Kellogg’s and its Special K brand. After spending millions of dollars researching women’s attitudes about diets and body image, Kellogg’s has learned how to talk about weight loss. Leveraging these insights, Kellogg’s Special K has created advertising that connects with women by recognizing happiness is more than a number on a scale:
But like a wolf in sheep’s clothing, after connecting with women emotionally, Kellogg’s sells them out. Rather than deliver healthy, real food options for women wanting to lose weight, Kellogg’s twists its knowledge and sells an über processed, highly profitable Special K line-up:
On its website Kellogg’s describes its Special K items as “goodness you can taste” and then goes on to say:
Look forward to every meal with a delicious and nutritious variety of Special K foods. We’re proud to include nutrients your body needs with the tastes you crave. From wholesome breakfast foods and savory snacks to shakes, sweet treats and so much more, all of our products were created to delight your taste buds.
But do these products deliver? Can you taste the goodness that Kellogg’s promises? And is Special K truly wholesome and nutritious? To answer these questions let’s take a closer look at several Special K items to see how they stack up:
[Click here for complete ingredient and nutrition info for these products.]
Unfortunately the Special K lineup follows a disappointing, faux food theme that concerns me for many reasons:
- Servings that will leave you hungry: In order to hit low calorie counts, Special K uses exceptionally small servings and/or foods that are literally filled with puffed air. While real food like vegetables or a piece of fruit make you feel full, it’s doubtful if Special K’s lineup will do much to satisfy your appetite.
- Lots of sugar: To make their bars, pastries, and drinks sweet, Special K pours on the sugar. In the items I reviewed, total sugars ranged from 6g-18g per serving and drove 25%-40% of the calorie count.
- Loads of sodium: If you’re watching your sodium intake, watch out since most of Special K’s items have 125-250mg of sodium per tiny serving.
- Many “fake” ingredients: From GMOs to artificial colors, flavors, and sweeteners there’s not much about these products that is real.
- Preservatives and controversial/potentially carcinogenic ingredients: BHT, trans fats, caramel color, TBHQ, and carrageenan are just some of the worrisome ingredients frequently found in the Special K family.
So does Kellogg’s provide a responsible action plan for weight-loss? No. Rather than advocate eating more real foods, Kellogg’s has merely taken out their processed food toolbox to profit off the global obesity epidemic they helped to create.
Awakening people to Big Food’s deceptive tactics and changing how they think about food and weight loss products is no easy task. Processed food companies have a lot vested in maintaining the status quo. And with their big research and advertising budgets they’ve successfully dominated and controlled the conversation about food. However, step by step real food believers like you and I are fighting back and spreading the word.
So do you want to help me change the conversation about food? Then share my blog with your friends and family. And if you haven’t checked out my novel, Fat Profits, please do. It’s an entertaining thriller about a corrupt food company launching a revolutionary, new weight loss product (sound familiar?). While it’s complete fiction, I’ve leveraged my 15+ years of Big Food marketing experience to create a suspenseful read that brings to life the corporate greed and corruption that’s endemic in the world of food. So seriously, if you love a good thriller, read a FREE copy of the first chapter today, and I’m sure you’ll be hooked.
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