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The Girl Scouts Miss the Boat with Mango Crèmes

"Healthy" Cookies Lead to Unhealthy Habits

I’m a big fan of the Girl Scout and their cookies, but what's going on with their new Mango Crèmes— made with something called Nutrifusion?

The Girls Scouts' new Mango Crèmes with Nutrifusion Cookie

These cookies are “In support of Girl Scouts healthy living initiatives and in response to consumer demand for a healthier snack alternative,” reports ABC Bakers, the company who makes the cookies for the Girl Scouts.[i]

If only Mango Crèmes were healthy. If only they were made with mango. That's right, the ingredients include sugar, corn syrup, coconut and a cocktail of concentrates—cranberry, pomegranate, orange, grape, strawberry and shitake mushrooms—but no mango.

Aren't mushroom cookies your fave?

Comparing Mango Crèmes with a comparable portion of Peanut Butter Sandwich cookies shows Mango Crèmes have more calories, more fat, more sugar, and less protein. Healthy indeed.

Comparing the Mango Crèmes with Nutrifusion to Peanut Butter Sandwich Cookies

True, Mango Crèmes have less sodium (100mg compared to 135mg for the PB cookies) and a lot more added vitamins, but the numbers still beg the question: Is this really answering consumer demand for a healthier snack alternative?

Go to the Girl Scouts' website to compare all the cookies.

As far as I can tell, there is only one reason to sell souped-up cookies: GUILT. Kids don't eat enough healthy food but they do eat too many cookies. Parents feel guilty.

Give your kids Mango Crèmes if they like them, but not because they are healthy.

When you blur the boundaries between healthy food and treats it is hard to:

  • Convince your kids to limit their intake of treats
  • Teach your kids the importance of eating healthy foods

After all, when cookies deliver nutrients derived from cranberries, why eat actual cranberries? Pomegranates? Oranges? Grapes? Or strawberries?

Plus, the idea that cookies can be healthy encourages parents to give their children cookies more frequently than good habits would dictate. When kids eat a lot of cookies they get in the habit of eating broccoli. No they don't. They get in the habit of eating cookies. Cookies train your kids' taste buds away from fruits and vegetables.

Eating cookies for nutritional value is nuts. It promotes the idea that there are "good" foods and there are "bad" foods. It fosters the idea that people should feel guilty when they eat the "wrong" foods. There are better lessons to teach your kids, such as:

  • Eat foods in proportion to their healthful benefits
  • Adding nutrients to a food doesn't make it nutritious
  • Indulging in treats is a good thing—as long as it is done in moderation.

Don't get sucked in by "nutrition-think." It doesn't matter what your kids eat. What matters is how often they eat it.

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Source: [i] http://www.abcsmartcookies.com/abc-bakers-introduces-mango-cremes-with-nutrifusion, accessed 1/14/13

© 2013 Dina Rose, PhD. Portions of this blog appeared in an earlier version on my blog It's Not About Nutrition. Changing the conversation from nutrition to habits.

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About the Author
Dina Rose Ph.D.

Dina Rose, Ph.D., is a sociologist and the author of the book It's Not About the Broccoli: Three Habits to Teach Your Kids for a Lifetime of Healthy Eating and the blog It's Not About Nutrition.