There is sugar in Nutella? What?

We should all be relieved to know that the makers of Nutella have lost their class-action lawsuit and are now slated to pay $2.5 million to consumers who thought – misled by the company’s “part of a healthy breakfast” claim – that Nutella was a healthy food.  Because it was purported to be “part of a healthy breakfast”. 

Sock it to the man! you might be saying.  Down with the big corporation misleading the public! you may cheer.  Occupy the breakfast table! you say as you raise your clenched fist.  Or, you may be responding the way I did: weary acceptance of the stupidity of the general public, and expecting to see many, many more of these kinds of lawsuits.

I know.  I’ve written about this before, when the lawsuit was just being launched.  Personally, I think that Nutella is as much part of a balanced breakfast as Cocoa Puffs or Froot Loops – i.e., it is worthy of being a very occasional treat, but it is not a healthy, everyday item.  Full disclosure: I buy Nutella maybe once every couple of years, usually as an ingredient for a decadent dessert or baked good.  I never buy things like Cocoa Puffs or Froot Loops because in spite of their claims of being part of a balanced breakfast, I have the ability to read the label and conclude that no, those foods do not provide the kind of energy that I want my children to have first thing in the morning.  I’m empowered due to my ability to read labels.  So are you.  So is the general public, even if they are too swayed by advertising to see it.

And this is what I find especially infuriating: parents being too swayed by advertising to make intelligent, informed decisions about the optimal foods to feed their children.  The issue being that Nutella, while similar in nutrition to peanut butter, is very high in sugar, leading to obesity and Type 2 Diabetes, and that, of course, is never mentioned in the commercials.  There’s sugar in Nutella?  But they don’t say that on TV!

Well, it is a chocolate spread.

As I see it, commercials are an opportunity to discuss with your children that not everything is as seen on TV.  When my kids were little, they became obsessed with a certain Hot Wheels track set commercial.  The tracks fed into dinosaurs, which, in the commercial, chomped the cars and launched the cars and it was amazing.  Amazing!  My children coveted these tracks so very much.  Then Mark received this track set for his birthday, and was eventually gravely disappointed in the flimsy plastic tracks and the easily-broken snapping dinosaurs.  Wait – the cars don’t fly through the air!  The commercial was WRONG.

This sparked many discussions about how not everything is as cool as it seems on TV.  Until the day that there is 100% truth in advertising, it is up to us as consumers to decipher and make informed consumption decisions, and it is up to us as parents to educate our children about this.  This is true for children’s toys, for Happy Meals, for products purportedly intended to make our lives easier, healthier, and happier.  

We need to take responsibility for our choices.  What are we teaching our children, if we simply throw up our hands and say we were lied to, despite the easy-to-read label on the jar.  They said it was healthy!  It’s not!  Now I will sue!  What we are saying is that we have no personal liability; our choices are someone else’s fault. 

I want to shake the people who are actively wasting resources that could be much better spent, the people who are participating in this suit.  I want to say: read the label.  Make a choice.  Take responsibility.  



    I couldn’t love this post more.

  2. YES. I am rather tired of these stupid lawsuits. Aren’t there more important things for us to do? Apparently not. I never actually buy Nutella because hazelnuts are a pox on my tastebuds, but even so, I put Nutella and Lucky Charms and Nesquik in the same sugar-laden category. Enjoy it, but don’t think you’re eating healthy just because the advertisers tell you you are.

  3. Mary Lynn says

    Hee…I love this post. It drives me crazy the lack of responsibility people take for their own actions.

    My kids occasionally get Nutella as a treat, but that’s what it is–A TREAT. And I make sure they know that.

  4. I’ve never tried Nutella but of course it’s not part of a healthy breakfast. People really need to learn to read labels better instead of blindly trusting ads.

  5. Wait, I’m supposed to read the labels on things and make my own informed choices?! Insanity!

    My son had a similar experience when he was younger and although it was a bummer, it was a lesson that stuck as far as truth in advertising (or lack thereof). Now he views almost all ads with skepticism that I’m afraid is a required skill in today’s world.

  6. Amen to reading the label. Some things that are even said to be healthy are really not if you check closely to the label.

  7. My friend Collette would actually take her kids into toy stores and show them toys that they’d seen on commercials to illustrate the difference – but I think actually getting the thing and seeing that it’s crap is probably the best lesson.

    My kids don’t eat that healthy a breakfast. My husband feeds them in the morning, and they eat healthy enough at every other meal that I have decided not to sweat it. I read another post this week that said doughnuts are really unhealthy too – *theatrical gasp* – where will the carnage end?

  8. I love when breakfast cereals are advertised as “part of the healthy breakfast” and the picture that flashes up is two slices of whole wheat toast, a big glass of orange juice, a glass of milk, a sliced orange AND the sugary cereal. B/c the real message is: if you can fit all the healthy stuff in your gullet, the cereal won’t be THAT for you.

    No matter how often Nutella touts themselves as “a proud sponsor of the Canadian Soccer Association” I never forget it’s icing in a jar.

  9. Word. We have just started letting our kids watch TV shows that have commercials in the past couple of months, which has led to many, many discussions about marketing and what it means. The older two are pretty firmly now of the opinion that everything they see in a commercial is an exaggeration, if not an outright lie, but our youngest, who is just 4 1/2, really cannot make the distinction at all. It’s crazy how brainwashed she can be.

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