Don’t be fooled by so-called ‘healthy’ crisps! Popped alternatives can have nearly TWICE as many calories and salt as bog-standard versions like Quavers and Skips
- MailOnline compared the nutritional content of savoury snacks that made health claims sold in the UK
- Popworks sweet and salty popped crisps had 50% more calories than Quavers, which is favoured by dieters
- Eat Real humus sour cream and chive crisps were the saltiest available, with twice as much salt as Quavers
- Action on Salt said data ‘clearly shows these crisps are worryingly high in salt, sugar and calories’
So-called ‘healthy’ crisp alternatives can be twice as calorific and salty than British classics, analysis shows.
MailOnline looked at the nutritional content of crisps billed as healthy alternatives — with marketing slogans like ‘popped not fried’, ‘high in protein’ and ‘better for you’.
Among the worst offenders was Popworks Sweet and Salty Popped Crisps, which claim to be ‘light on the lips’ but actually have 50 per cent more calories than Quavers, a popular choice among slimmers.
EMILY Rainbow Roots Veg Crisps also has twice as many calories than Skips, neurontin nursing drug card another go-to for dieters, and a tenth more than classics such as Walkers Ready Salted.
And Eat Real Humus Sour Cream and Chive Chips, which claims to be a ‘healthier alternative to standard snack and confectionery items’, were the saltiest available. They contained twice as much salt as a pack of Quavers — meaning they were even worse than fries from McDonalds.
Campaigners told MailOnline that even though the snacks ‘may look and sound healthy’, consumers shouldn’t ‘be fooled’ because the data ‘clearly shows these crisps are worryingly high in salt, sugar and calories’.
It comes after a report warned that eating a bag of crisps every day could lead to a stone of weight gain in a year because Britons drastically underestimate the number of calories in their snacks.
MailOnline looked at the nutritional content of crisps billed as healthy alternatives — with marketing slogans like ‘popped not fried’, ‘high in protein’ and ‘better for you’. Among the worst offenders was Popworks Sweet and Salty Popped Crisps, which claim to be ‘light on the lips’ but actually have 50 per cent more calories than Quavers, a popular choice among slimmers. EMILY Rainbow Roots Veg Crisps also has twice as many calories than Skips, another go-to for dieters, and a tenth more than classics such as Walkers Ready Salted
• Eat at least 5 portions of a variety of fruit and vegetables every day. All fresh, frozen, dried and canned fruit and vegetables count
• Base meals on potatoes, bread, rice, pasta or other starchy carbohydrates, ideally wholegrain
• 30 grams of fibre a day: This is the same as eating all of the following: 5 portions of fruit and vegetables, 2 whole-wheat cereal biscuits, 2 thick slices of wholemeal bread and large baked potato with the skin on
• Have some dairy or dairy alternatives (such as soya drinks) choosing lower fat and lower sugar options
• Eat some beans, pulses, fish, eggs, meat and other proteins (including 2 portions of fish every week, one of which should be oily)
• Choose unsaturated oils and spreads and consuming in small amounts
• Drink 6-8 cups/glasses of water a day
• Adults should have less than 6g of salt and 20g of saturated fat for women or 30g for men a day
Source: NHS Eatwell Guide
MailOnline examined over three dozen different types of crisps. All of the products had a health claim included on the packaging.
Analysis shows EMILY Rainbow Roots Veg Crisps had the most calories (144).
And EMILY Veg Thins Vegan Sour Cream and Onion were the second-most calorific, with 140 calories per pack.
Both products are branded as made with real vegetables and ‘high fibre’.
For comparison, this is around twice as many as Skips (71), Wotsits (82) and Quavers (86) and the same as a 27.2g bar of Dairy Milk (145 calories).
Quavers, Wotsits and Skips are loved by dieters and often included in weight loss plans from slimmers who have shed pounds.
Former leader of the Scottish Conservatives Ruth Davidson has told how she turned to so-called ‘diet crisps’ Quavers and Skips to help her lose two stone.
It was followed by Popworks Sweet and Salty Popped Crisps — which are ‘never fried’ and ‘light on the lips’ but contain 130 calories per pack, the same as a packet of Walkers ready salted.
And Eat Real humus sour cream and chive crisps were the saltiest available, with 0.65g per pack, nearly double that contained in a packet of Quavers (0.34g) and more than a medium portion of McDonald’s fries (0.62g).
It claims to be a ‘healthier alternative to standard snack and confectionery items’.
Properchips Salt and Vinegar Lentil Chips, which is marketed as high in protein and a source of fibre and iron, was the next-most salty (0.57g).
They were followed by Popworks Protein Sweet Bbq Popped Crisps (0.56g), which is marketed as ‘high in protein’, ‘never fried’ and ‘light on the lips’.
For comparison, this is more than a serving of salted peanuts (0.39g) and salted popcorn (0.28g).
Katharine Jenner, director and registered nutritionist at Action on Sugar and Action on Salt said: ‘Whilst these products may look and sound healthy, don’t be fooled as the data clearly shows these crisps are worryingly high in salt, sugar and calories.
‘Yet again, this reinforces the urgent need for all food manufacturers to use mandatory colour-coded nutrition labelling, stop using misleading health claims on food and drink that is high in fat, sugar and salt and for the Government to introduce mandatory reductions in sugar, fat and salt.
‘Fat is a bigger contributor to calories in the diet than sugar and [it is] therefore essential that manufacturers are encouraged to reduce both in order to tackle the UK’s unhealthy eating habits and the excessive calorie intake.’
Professor Gunter Kuhnle, an expert in nutrition and food science at the University of Reading, told MailOnline that as long as these snacks are eaten as a treat, the nutritional content is not too worrying.
‘However, there is of course some concern that products that are marketed as “healthy” or “alternative” might be perceived as much healthier than they actually are,’ he said.
MailOnline analysis suggests ‘many of the more traditional snacks fare better than the more modern ones’ on salt and calories, Professor Kuhnle said.
‘In the end, it shows that it is important to read the label if one is interested in the nutrition content, as it’s virtually impossible to guess,’ he added.
A report by Nesta, a charity that works for social change, warned Britons drastically underestimate the number of calories in crisps and other snacks that make up a significant portion of our diets.
An extra 240 calories per day, equivalent to a large ‘grab bag’ of Walkers, would result in weight gain of around a stone (6.4kg) over the course of a year, the charity calculated.
And at the same time, a survey of 2,000 adults found that three quarters underestimate the impact of that relatively small diet change could have on their physique.
One in ten respondents believed that lowering daily calories by 200 a day would not affect their weight at all.
Hugo Harper, director of Nesta’s health team, said small changed ‘can make a profound difference’ – ‘if sustained’.
Latest figures show 28 per cent of adults in England are obese, while one in three children are overweight or obese by the time they leave school.
The NHS spends more than £6billion per year treating obesity-related health problems and the cost is set to rocket to £9.7billion by 2050.
The Prime Minister announced a crackdown on obesity in 2020 after a near-fatal bout of Covid which he attributed to being overweight.
As part of the plan, new laws restricting offers on foods high in fat, sugar and salt are due to come into effect in medium and large shops in October. Junk food giants will also be banned from advertising online and before 9pm on TV by January 2023.
No10 is also planning to end ‘buy one, get one free’ promotions for unhealthy food and stop the products from being placed in prominent locations in shops, such as entrances and checkouts.
And a rule came into effect earlier this month requiring restaurants, cafes and takeaways with more than 250 staff to list calories on their menus.
And through the NHS, Britons can now get access to apps as well as free or discounted membership to gyms and programmes such as Weight Watchers to help them shed weight.
But there are concerns Mr Johnson may dilute or drop some of these plans to appease Tory MPs who oppose nanny-state interventions.
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