Friday, May 7, 2010

Is Chobani Making Me Fat?

Over the past few months, I have gained an unusual amount of weight, going from 120- to 128-pounds on a 5' 5" frame. I know, I know, it doesn't make me a whale and I'm not anywhere near the average American weight for a woman of my age and height. But that's not the point. We Americans have become terribly fat in the past 20-years, and I have no interest in becoming an average-sized American. I want to be thin, and like anyone, if I consume too many calories, I gain weight.

So I watch what I eat--especially since I do not exercise. I read the nutritional labels. I pay attention to caloric intake. I eat very little junk and choose healthy foods. I eschew added sugar, especially high fructose corn syrup. I cook meals and try to eat small portions. It's pretty much that simple, and the result is that I stay thin while eating delicious food.

Over the past year, Greek yogurt seems to have become quite popular. I have tried the several brands that my local Stop & Shop has begun to carry. Fage brand may have been my favorite, but Chobani is excellent and costs less. So Chobani is my choice. And since I am about to criticize them for their confusing, if not misleading, packaging, let me first share with you some great things about Chobani. It's:

· All natural. Has no preservatives or artificial flavors.
· Has no synthetic growth hormones or rBST-treated milk.
· Includes 5 live & active cultures, including 3 probiotics.
· Made with real fruit.
· Has twice the protein of regular yogurts.

So, I have swapped out my previous morning or afternoon snack in favor of Chobani 2% plain yogurt. I purchase the medium-sized container (16 oz / 454g). Normally I choose a snack that has 150 to 200 calories. The nutritional label on the Chobani container indicates that there are 2 servings per container, and each serving has 170 calories. That works for me!

But this morning, as I was taking a new container of Chobani out of the fridge, it occurred to me that half a container, 8 ounces, or half a pound (!) seemed like an awfully big portion. So I sat down with the container, and examined the Nutrition Facts panel more closely than I had before. When I was done reading, I was pretty confused. Look at the label for yourself:

1. The whole container is 454g, but the Nutrition Facts panel says the container is half that: 227g.

2. The Nutrition Facts panel says that a serving size = 1 container, and that each container = 2 servings. That makes no sense. If a container = 2 servings, then obviously a serving size = 1/2 container.

3. The Nutrition Facts panel shows that a serving has 170 calories. But without knowing how large a serving is, that information is useless!

I can judge just by holding an unopened container that the weight shown on the front of the container is most likely correct: 16OZ (1 lb., or 454g.).

That means we can assume that the information shown in #2 (in the photo) is incorrect. One container does not equal 227 grams.

So the question is, is there a typo, and the Nutrition Facts panel should simply say "Serving Size: 1/2 container (227g)," or are there really 2 servings in each 227 grams, as the label indicates?

If the latter, then I have been eating twice as many calories in Chobani yogurt than I thought. That would mean between 170 and 340 calories more per day than I intended--or about 255 extra calories per day.

A pound of fat is gained for every 3500 extra calories consumed (and not burned). At a rate of 255 extra calories consumed per day, it would take 2-weeks to gain 1 pound.

Have I been gaining 2-pounds per month because of my Chobani habit? Is Chobani making me fat? And if delicious, Greek yogurt isn't the culprit, where the heck is this gross, extra weight coming from?

I'm going to email Chobani today, and see what they have to say about the Nutrition Facts label. Either way, it obviously contains an error.

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