Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Move Over Babies! Similac Now Pumping Formula for Moms!?

No this is not a piece from the Onion!

Thanks to the University of Western's assistant professor and childhood obesity researcher Dr. Shauna Burke I came across this Frankenfood. It's a formula product made by Similac but instead of being predatorily marketed to Moms to feed their children, it's being predatorily marketed to pregnant women and breastfeeding Moms to feed themselves! And judging from the advertising up above, it would seem part of the marketing pitch is to help make healthier, smarter, babies.

It's called "Similac Mom" and according to Abbott, makers of Similac Mom,
"Healthy babies start with healthy moms. That’s why now more than ever, it’s time to really take care of yourself. Part of feeling your best is making sure you get the extra nutrition you need so you have energy for you and your baby"
Energy eh? My experience has taught me "energy" is usually used as a healthful sounding euphemism for sugar.

So how much sugar, er I mean "energy", is in a bottle of Similac Mom?

7.75 teaspoons worth of it. And drinking just one premixed 235mL bottle packs the caloric punch of more than a half a litre of sugar enriched, vitamin and protein enhanced, Coca-Cola.

Gotta love the ingredients list too. You can click on it here if you'd like, but if you want it in simplified terms it's basically,
Water, sugar, emulsifiers, sugar, oil, proteins, oil, added vitamins and minerals
Product spokesperson, Dr. Sonja Wicklum, a fellow Ottawa physician who works with the Ottawa Hospital's Weight Management Clinic states (bolding Abbott's),
"Expectant and breast feeding moms need complete balanced nutrition. That is why I recommend Similac Mom along with a healthy diet rich in essential nutrients."
Really the only "balance" I can think of here is balancing the healthy diet rich in essential nutrients with this vitamin-fortified, sugar-water horror show.  Because in my books this product is pretty much the opposite of what I would expect a healthy diet rich in essential nutrients to include.

I reached out to product whistle-blower Dr. Burke as to what she felt was so horrifying about Similac Mom.   Here's her take,
"It is in a formula company’s best interest to have women become emotionally attached to their brand as early as possible—to do so during pregnancy makes complete sense from a business perspective. But, given the link between maternal weight status and child obesity risk and the countless benefits associated with exclusive breastfeeding for both mother and baby, this product—marketed as a “nutritional beverage” despite the fact that it contains more sugar than Coca-Cola - makes no sense from a health perspective."
But of course this isn't about health, now is it?

[I also reached out to Dr. Wicklum for comment. Unfortunately I did not hear back.]

Bookmark and Share


  1. Anonymous9:43 am

    Have you seen their toddler products? Talk about a "vitamin-fortified, sugar horror show". They constantly send parents free samples and market it as healthy. I don't know how many bleary-eyed new parents stop to read the ingredients, but the second ingredient is sugar, and that should be their indication to throw it out immediately.

  2. This doesn't surprise me at all. It is part of their cradle to grave strategy. They already have Similac for babies and toddlers, Pediasure and EleCare for children, and Ensure for adults and seniors.

    This product just rounds things out for them and helps to add some income where they might otherwise have lost it (i.e. if the mom is going to breastfeed and therefore not buy formula for the baby, at least ensure the mom is buying formula for herself).

  3. Lindsay D10:32 am

    I got a sample bottle of this stuff when I was pregnant with my son 2 years ago. Sat in my fridge for months before I finally threw it out. I'd prefer to get my nutrition from actual foods, thank you very much.

    Also had some powdered junk sent to me that I was supposed to mix with water and feed to my toddler. Again, sat on the counter for months, before I threw it out. I have a hard time justifying throwing away free stuff, but this is just garbage that I'm not putting in my kid's body!

  4. MMM, lots of GMOs

    Why doesn't the so called 'Heart and Stroke' and the 'Pink Ribbon Campaign for Breast Cancer' pay for lots of advertising to promote women to breastfeed their babies. They should emphasize that women can and will be supported to breastfeed their babies wherever and for how long they want too. It should show the trillion benefits that breastfeeding does for babies and mother. Oh yeah, but wait, I forgot for a minute that they are just as much a 'corporate' business as Similac is. They all like to "Throw the baby out with the bathwater."

  6. REALLY come on now that's why we have FOOD and prenatle. They just want money they dont give a rats butt about anyone and will give you poison if it makes them money which just by the looks of this it is poison. I wish that moms would just using this kinda of things maybe they will stop making it. just my thoughts.

  7. Anonymous5:29 pm

    Why don't hospitals and health regions have a policy against staff whoring themselves out to corporate interests in the form of endorsing products? I'm a medical librarian, and I've talked to hospital staff who have to get everything they produce for patient education purposes vetted, but a doctor can lend their name (and more importantly, their institution's name) to a piece of garbage like this, and it seems there are no consequences.

  8. Anonymous6:42 pm

    When I was pregnant and couldn't gain weight my dietitian told me to drink whole milk. When that didn't work - I added ice cream. It was wonderful!

    Why on earth would you want to drink this disgusting stuff!!!!

  9. Anonymous7:05 pm

    Well Let me be the one who chimes in. I was sick my ENTIRE pregnancy, my sugars we constantly DROPPING, and i was malnourished. I found this to be a nice alternative to the above as it actually stayed in and didn't make me gag. FOr some it may work, and not far off from boost, ensure, etc.

  10. I'm seriously SPEECHLESS.

  11. I'd rather eat the legendary can of worms.

  12. bethm9:36 am

    beyond horrified that a doc in ottawa is doing the promotional bit for this stuff. she works in wt management.......obviously not in health management. this stuff isn't food - just sugar and oil and yes, as Annie said is part of the cradle to grave strategy of this company. as a lactation consultant i am sighing and crying over this - the marketing is so pervasive. is formula necessary for some babes? ok. but this stuff?? i'm just soooo tired of the whole thing being promoted in the way it is.

  13. This is basically the same as the Ensure Mom they had out about 7 years ago. I drank Ensure Mom with my oldest, but was constantly loosing weight. It didn't help me gain any either. Now after my second baby, I know that I just loose weight when pregnant.

  14. Pregnant? Just take pop add some sugar and fat and toss in a multi-vitamin. SEROUSLY! As a dietitian I would never recommend this to my cliets. Real food first!

  15. Yeah, we are seeing tons of this pushed into our stores and promoted in the flyers. It is a similar strategy they used when they came up with Glucerna. Oh, diabetes patients won't drink Ensure because it has too much sugar. We'll create something with ever so slighter amounts of sugar and call it Glucerna and market it to those with diabetes. But wait! We're missing out on young women. Damn it. They won't drink Ensure because that's for old or sick people. Oh wait. We'll put the exact same thing in a bottle and call it Similac Mom and we're off to the races. The sad thing is, scores of women buy this stuff because they "don't eat a balanced diet". Sorry sister, but this stuff ain't gonna fix that problem for ya.