Posted tagged ‘slim fast’

Slim Fast for kids

August 9, 2009

The Pediatric Insider

© 2009 Roy Benaroch, MD

Josie’s wondering if sharing her Slim Fast shake is a good idea: “My son is almost 2 (2 months shy) and ever since I let him have a sip of my Slim Fast shake (those chocolate milk drinks in a can), he cries and cries for one everyday. I understand that they are completely insufficient at providing him with the fat, protein, vitamins and minerals he needs on a daily basis, but my question is, is it horribly wrong for me to let him have one every once in a while?  The whole point in those shakes are to give you the minerals and vitamins you need, minus the fat, right? Other than the times I do let him have one, he eats plenty and has a very well balanced diet.”

From their web site, here’s a list of typical Slim Fast ingredients: fat-free milk, water, sugar, gum arabic, calcium caseinate, cellulose gel, canola oil, potassium phosphate, soybean lecithin, mono and diclycerides, artificial flavors, carrageen and dextrose. (Most of the flavors are more-or-less like this, with some variations.) After those items are a long list of added vitamins and minerals. I don’t see anything offensive in the list, though this wouldn’t be appropriate for those with milk or soy allergies.

Looking further at the label, an 8 oz Slim Fast has 220 calories, including 3 grams of fat, 35 grams of sugar, and 10 grams of protein. For comparison:

(all per 8 oz)

Calories

Fat, grams

Protein, grams

Sugar, grams

Slim Fast

220

3

10

35

Apple Juice

120

0

0

28

Skim Milk

80

0

8

11

Whole Milk

150

8

8

13

To me, the striking thing about Slim Fast is how high it is in sugar—higher than any of these other choices. It sort of has the protein content of milk, the sugar content of juice, and the fat of low-fat milk. It’s also very calorie-dense, much more so than even whole milk.

So: there’s nothing inherently wrong with Slim Fast, though if you use it as a substitute for milk (even whole milk), your child will get far more calories than you might expect. It’s meant to be a substitute for food. A little now and then will do no harm, but regular consumption of it as a beverage may end up putting your child at risk for overweight. A more cynical person might say that the manufacturer thinks that’s not such a bad idea.