How come:

a can of Slim Fast has 180 calories and 4 tablespoons of sugar and is supposed to make us thin, while a can of Coke has 150 calories and 3 tablespoons of sugar and is supposed to make us fat?*

Does printing "Slim" on the label change the actual quality of the food? Or just our perceived quality? What does this tell you about marketing, advertising, and the media? About our knowledge of food and metabolism?

*Note: I got these statistics from a book review, and have verified them to the best of my ability. If they are wrong, please (nicely) let me know.

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IrishUp said...

Ah - but SF is marketed to have AS a meal, and cola WITH a meal.
Which makes the former WORSE than the latter, IMO

Carrie said...

This is very true. Just wondering: how does it make Slim Fast worse? Do you mean worse in terms of how the company is fiddling with our minds?

Frankly, I don't like the taste of either of them. My shakes begin with ice cream- or at least milk- but NEVER a can. Well, at least now that Ensure and Boost are in bottles. :)

Anonymous said...

I think the title of this post says it all. It's all in the eye of the beholder...or the marketer, maybe.

disordered girl said...

I've always scoffed at slim fast drinkers because they were basically drinking sugar, but I never thought of directly comparing it to soda. Good point.

Now they advertise having higher protein content to keep hunger at bay. Whatever!

Carrie said...


The protein content *is* likely what's holding you over, besides the false liquid fullness. But energetically to your body, a Slim Fast isn't much different than a Coke. The difference in calories is essentially the extra tablespoon of sugar. Screw it- I'll fritter the extra money at Starbucks and get something that tastes good AND has caffeine! :)

I should look up the serving size differences, though. Even so.

Cammy said...

I think that a Slimfast is definitely better than coke because of the added nutrients, protein, etc, but you do have a point. Being healthier than coke isn't setting a very high bar. Most people just pay attention to the advertising hype and believe it when a company asserts that something is "healthy." As critical as we are of our bodies, you'd think we'd be more critical of the details of what we put into them! I never "got" the appeal of the Slimfast diet, if you're going to consume X calories, why not at least choose something you can chew?

Carrie said...

I don't think either Slim Fast or Coke are healthy or unhealthy- it's how they're a part of your overall intake that really decides the question.

I haven't read a Slim Fast can (in fact, I don't think I've even really picked one up), but looking at the stats this way, there's not much difference between SF and Coke. And yet one is considered a weight loss product and the other is supposed to make us fat. SF is a weight loss product only because we consider it such. Say you're replacing a meal with a Coke and you'll get goggles and stares- don't you want something *healthy*?

Now that I'm in recovery I find the idea of a 180 calorie "meal" laughable. Heck, I eat more than that at snacktime!

Anonymous said...

Nutrtional content of Slim Fast Original Shake/Creamy Milk Chocolate:
Energy 220 kcal
Protein 10.01 g
Total lipid (fat) 2.99 g
by difference 40.01 g
Fiber, total dietary 5 g
Sugars, total 34 g
Calcium, Ca 400 mg
Iron, Fe 2.7 mg
Magnesium, Mg 140 mg
Phosphorus, P 400 mg
Potassium, K 600 mg
Sodium, Na 220 mg
Zinc, Zn 2.24 mg
Manganese, Mn 0.715 mg
Selenium, Se 17.5 mcg
Vitamin C,
total ascorbic acid 60 mg
Thiamin 0.715 mg
Riboflavin 0.715 mg
Niacin 6.988 mg
Pantothenic acid 3.51 mg
Vitamin B-6 0.715 mg
Folate, total 120 mcg
Vitamin B-12 2.11 mcg
Vitamin A, IU 1750 IU
Vitamin E, added 30 mg
Vitamin D 140.01 IU
Vitamin K (phylloquinone) 20 mcg
Fatty acids,
total saturated 1.008 g
Fatty acids,
total monounsaturated 1.495 g
Fatty acids,
total polyunsaturated 0.488 g
Cholesterol 5 mg

* Hospital inpatients on eating disorder units frequently complain about Ensure/Boost/Etc. "because it's all sugar and 'junk' " -- despite its other nutrients. With malnutrition, whether its starvation, obesity or poor intake choices, you frequently need to just start somewhere better than where you were and build on a little bit better and a little more. For those trying to make a lifestyle change toward healthier eating, Slim Fast might be a beginning point that could help toward adopting real foods that nourish and moving away from empty sodas/foods. Likewise, malnourished ED patients need to first gain weight, then work toward moderate, healthy choices.

Carrie said...


But people classified as "obese" don't necessarily only eat sodas and "junk". That's one of the biggest stereotypes out there. And anyone on an ED in patient unit will object to damn near anything with calories. Trust me.

Yes, Slim Fast is fortified with vitamins and nutrition, which is all fine and dandy. But it's not meant to be kind of real food with training wheels. It's meant to be what you eat instead of lunch so that you lose weight.

Regardless, a can of Coke is thought to make us fat when it has less calories than a can of Slim Fast- which is supposed to make us thin. Advertisers, my friends, are very smart.

Anonymous said...

Indeed, if you need to gain weight, then Ensure is for weight-gain; if you need to lose weight, then Ensure is a "delicious meal replacement"; if you are perfectly healthy but "worry you're not getting all the nutrition you should be," then Ensure is an expensive vitamin with calores+stuff to assuage guilt; and if you are a child or a "senior," then Ensure also has a pediatric product and one, ostensibly, for older people.

I worked in agency advertising for a couple of years before going back to newspaper (news) journalism.

IrishUp said...

Carrie -
Yep, I meant pretending some chemicals in a can is a GOOD For You MEAL is a crock-o-poop. As is the current marketing of Ensure instead of a meal.
All of this crap just perpetutates the unhealthy idea that real food is somehow BAD for YOU.
- Really, what marketing genius(es) came up with this? And did they used to work for Tobacco convincing us smoke in our lungs was GOOD for us?

For the record, my favorite lunch ALL time for the past 40yrs is Pizza n Pepsi - and I have it pretty much every Weds even still. There is no-way-in-hell you could replace it with a SlimFast or Ensure without a fight! ;/

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I'm a science writer, a jewelry design artist, a bookworm, a complete geek, and mom to a wonderful kitty. I am also recovering from a decade-plus battle with anorexia nervosa. I believe that complete recovery is possible, and that the first step along that path is full nutrition.

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