Thursday, April 03, 2014

You Won't Believe How Much Sugar and Trans-Fat the Girl Scouts SellEach Year

A few weeks ago, Dr. John Mandrola, my collegue in both blogging and medicine, published a piece critical of the Girl Scouts for continuing to sell their sugar and trans-fat laden cookies. Yesterday I was asked to chat with AirTalk's Larry Mantle about it.

In preparing for the piece I decided to do a little math homework (which unfortunately I got backwards on AirTalk yesterday where I under-reported trans-fat and over-reported sugar).

Using Wikipedia's sales data on Girl Scout Cookies, along with Xfinity's trans fat and sugar charts I crunched numbers on just how much trans-fat and sugar the sale of Girl Scout cookies injects into America.

The numbers shocked even me.

Assuming a likely low-ball 0.25g of trans-fat per trans-fat containing Girl Scout cookie serving (they're allowed to claim 0g trans fat if less than 0.5g per serving), and excluding the sales of those cookies known to be truly 100% trans-fat free, Girl Scout cookies saddle America with over three quarters of a million pounds of trans-fat annually (and in case you need a reminder, non-naturally occurring trans-fat is a toxin unsafe in any amount).

And sugar?

Wow. The average amount of sugar per two cookies sold is in the neighbourhood of 7g and the average package contains 20 cookies. Doing the math tells me that each year the Girl Scouts are selling over thirty million pounds of sugar. That's 3.5 billion teaspoons of sugar the Girl Guides are adding to the American food supply in the name of charitable fundraising.

Just as John notes on his blog, today isn't 50 years ago. What might have been a semi-innocuous practice when it began is now part of the problem, and given our current burden of diet and weight related illness, no matter how worthy the cause it can no longer be considered charitable to sell sugar and trans-fat.

[Math: 0.25g trans fat/serving x 8 servings avg/box x 200,000,000 boxes/year x 0.88 (% of cookie sales where partially hydrogenated an ingredient) / 1,000g/kg x 2.2lb/kg = 774,400lbs trans fat/year

7g sugar/2 cookies x 20 cookies avg/box x 200,000,000 boxes/year / 1,000g/kg x 2.2lb/kg = 30,800,000lbs of sugar/year]