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Weight Watchers, Ben & Jerry’s, Arctic Zero Have Up To 68% More Calories Than Labeled [REPORT]

 

We’ve got DIET ICE CREAM GATE on our hands.

As consumers, we’re supposed to be able to trust nutrition labels, especially when on a calorie-restricted diet. There should be no doubt whatsoever that the nutritional content is accurate, right? Eek, not so fast. At least when it comes to low-calorie desserts.

MSNBC’s Rossen Report recently put 9 different major diet ice cream brands — including Ben & Jerry’s, Weight Watchers, Skinny Cow, and Arctic Zero — through a blind laboratory test to measure the actual caloric content per serving.1

What they found was rather, ahem, startling. Three of the products actually had FEWER calories than the labeled claim; the Skinny Cow Cookie & Cream Truffle came in 3% lower; the Stonyfield Farms Minty Chocolate Chip was 4% lower; and the Ben & Jerry’s Froyo Half Baked was 5% lower than advertised. And then it went downhill.

  • Ben & Jerry’s Froyo Chocolate Fudge Brownie — 8% more, or 57 more calories per pint
  • Stonyfield Farms Créme Caramel — 10% more, or 52 more calories per pint
  • Weight Watchers Giant Fudge Sundae Cone — 13% more, or 18 more calories per cone
  • Weight Watchers Ice Cream Candy Bar — 16% more, or 22 more calories per bar
  • Arctic Zero Vanilla Maple — 46% more, or 69 more calories per pint
  • Arctic Zero Chocolate Peanut Butter — 68%, or 100 more calories per pint

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Upwards of 68% — that’s an issue. Arctic Zero, the product I raved about a few weeks back, recently responded on their official Facebook page with a picture of their own individual lab results, confirming the advertised 150 calories per pint.

I don’t have a magic lab of my own to test the TRUE calorie content and I honestly don’t know what to take as gospel in this case. What I do know is this — DON’T FREAK OUT.

The lofty percentage numbers make the implications for Arctic Zero overblown. Realistically we’re talking about a discrepancy of 50-100 calories for an ENTIRE PINT. You shouldn’t be eating an entire pint in one sitting anyway. Case-in-point. I still feel comfortable recommending Arctic Zero as an extremely healthy, low-calorie, high protein, low sugar dessert — it’s just not as untouchable as once touted.

Quite frankly, my biggest concern here lies with the FDA. The FDA legally allows manufacturers to underestimate advertised calorie counts by as much as 20 percent to “account for variation in portions”. TWENTY PERCENT. In an era when dieters meticulously gauge calories down to the single digit, this can derail even the most “precise” nutrition journal.

I’ll repeat what I’ve advocated for so long — calories are NOT the end-all, be-all for weight loss. First and foremost, build a diet grounded on foods with high protein and fiber, low sugar, and healthy fats. Calories should always be in the back of your mind, but shouldn’t drive your dietary decision making. Indulge, in this case with Arctic Zero, in moderation.



 

 

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References, Notes, Links

  1. MSNBC.com — Rossen Reports: Can You Believe Diet Frozen Dessert Labels? []

 

Bryan DiSanto

Bryan DiSanto

Founder & Editor-in-Chief at Lean It UP
ELLO ELLO I'm Bryan DiSanto. I'm the Founder & Editor-in-Chief of Lean It UP, a CPT/CSN/Fitness Coach, Chef trained at Le Cordon Bleu – Paris, NYU graduate, ex-fat kid, and all-around fitness junkie.

I also contribute to Men's Health Magazine.

When I'm not working on my abs (or somebody else’s), whipping up avocado roses and avocado toast, or running a Tough Mudder, I'm probably yelling at a Carolina Panthers game somewhere.

Come be friends with me on Instagram (@BRYDISANTO) & Snapchat (BRYDISANTO).
Bryan DiSanto
  • proteinguru

    An extra 100 calories for a product that advertises itself as only 150 calories is a HUGE deal.  It’s fraud.  The FDA’s wiggle room of 20% makes some sense — formulating a food to an exact calorie count in every batch is nearly impossible.  Hence the 20%.  But a difference of 70%?  Expect Arctic Zero to get hit by a class action lawsuit, not to mention an investigation by the FDA.  And for good reason.
     
    Also, if we “shouldn’t eat an entire pint in one sitting anyway,” why is half their marketing pitch centered around the fact that we could, indeed, eat an entire pint all at once without feeling guilty?  And by the way, it makes no sense for you to say that we shouldn’t be eating a whole pint, as if there’s something magical about a pint.  If it’s only 150 calories, why not?  Is there something special about a pint?  Could I eat a pint of a protein shake?  Of course I could, and I do regularly.  Makes no sense.

    • First off I agree 100% with your main point — from a legal standpoint this is major and a class action lawsuit will be filed. 70% is absurd. I’m not defending Arctic Zero in any way. Don’t mistake that, I can’t understate it enough.
       
      Outside of the legal and ethical issues, to back up my point-of-view, an extra 25 calories/serving isn’t going to kill anyone’s diet. From a dietary perspective, I really think the implications are overblown.
       
      Marketing aside, a pint is A LOT of ice cream to eat in one sitting. No, there’s nothing inherently special about a pint on its own, it’s a unit of measurement. But in the context of ice cream and froyo, a pint has been the standard unit of measurement for as long as I can remember — similar to 2 liters for soda, 1/2 gallon for milk, or 1 tablespoon for EVOO. 
       
      You also can’t compare liquids to solid foods in terms of measurement — a liquid pint and dry pint measure out differently (28.9 in^3/473 mL vs. 33.6 in^3/550 mL) — nor can you compare the volume of a protein shake to froyo. It’s apples to oranges. What about a pint of mayonnaise? (YUCK)