Want to “Ensure” That You Get Sick? Then Drink Ensure Every Day!

beverages-abbott-ensure-nutritional-shake-ready-to-drink-food

Want to ensure that you stay healthy and free of disease? Well this Ensure “healthy drink”, recommended for patients at risk of malnutrition, sounds really promising! Until you take a closer look at the nutrition facts, that is…

Sugar…

Just look at the two main ingredients (after water): corn maltodextrin and sugar. WHO recommends no more than 10% of energy in the diet to come from sugar, ideally below 5%. The sugar in this drink makes up a full 25 % of the energy. Five times more than the maximum recommendation.

…and then more bad carbs

Add the refined starch (corn maltodextrin) that rapidly turns into glucose in the blood, and the truly bad carbs add up to 56 % of the energy in this drink.

This is not that different from eating a bag of candy or drinking soda. Add a vitamin pill and you’ll get exactly the same effect.

If you want to ensure that you become obese and sick, then you should buy this drink.

A better alternative

Low Carb for Beginners

Earlier

The Chocolate Cheerios Miracle: Prevent Heart Disease With Added Sugar

Junk Food Can Lead to Early Signs of Diabetes in TWO DAYS

Videos

  • The problem with sugar
  • Are All Carbohydrates Equally Bad?

19 Comments

  1. Mike A.
    I'm an advocate for a low-carb paleo diet; however, I have to take exception to the black-and-white nature of this post. One thing I've learned from witnessing disordered eating and talking to nutritionists who deal with people that have eating disorders, is that labeling foods as inherently "good" or "bad" is irresponsible. Context matters. If someone is wasting away and can't maintain their weight regardless of how much "real food" they are able to keep down, products like this can be a wonderful help. I certainly agree that products like this shouldn't be marketed as health supplements for regular use; however, in certain circumstances they can be beneficially applied. I'm sure many people place a great deal of weight on your opinions, so please recognize that some people will struggle with the notion of "good" or "bad" foods. In some cases, almost any food is "good".
    Reply: #2
  2. You're right that context matters. Of course this is "good" for the manufacturer, because they can charge dollars for ingredients that costs a few cents, at the most.

    However, I struggle to think of anyone for whom relying on mainly added sugar and maltodextrin as food would be a good idea. Perhaps someone who is starving and there is nothing else to eat?

    Reply: #17
  3. Mike A.
    Perhaps an elderly person who is wasting away and has difficulty eating solid foods. Perhaps someone with anorexia or orthorexia who begins eating "real" foods again but despite his or her best efforts can't gain weight without supplementation (this indeed happens). Again, I support your efforts to promote healthy diets. I simply take issue with this post because it is very black and white and will serve some people poorly. Surely, as a physician, you can appreciate that a nuanced view is sometimes best. It would be inappropriate for me to assail your motives here and accuse you of simply appealing to a broad audience for the sake of web traffic. Perhaps you shouldn't impugn the motives of the manufacturer in this case.
    Reply: #10
  4. Stealth
    What frightens me is commercials suggesting Pediasure for children who are poor eaters. The commercials make parents feel they SHOULD be supplementing their children's diets with this crap.
  5. Leanne S.
    I spent a month in the hospital 6 years ago. I was supposed to drink one of these with EVERY MEAL. I refused. They got very angry with me, treated me like a recalcitrant child; they could not understand my objection to drinking all that sugar and processed crap. I couldn't eat the processed dollar store-level food they brought me, it killed my appetite. But they wouldn't bring me fresh fruits and vegetables and eggs. Finally, my husband starting bringing fruit and veg and cheese and meat and yogurt and eggs. The Ensure was thrown out, unopened, every single meal for a month, but still they brought it.
  6. Janknitz
    If I had a family member who is an "elderly person who is wasting away and has difficulty eating solid foods. Perhaps someone with anorexia or orthorexia who begins eating "real" foods again but despite his or her best efforts can't gain weight without supplementation" I would be making smoothies out of real ingredients dairy or coconut milk, adding healthy fats, collagen or gelatin, perhaps pureed veggies and some fruit for flavor. Or fortifying broth with good fats and pureed veggies. Not this stuff.
    Replies: #7, #8, #11
  7. Cindy C
    Yes, to your list, plus 2 eggs-boiling water will "cook" the eggs. It would be easy to also add a jar of baby food vegetables, into the blender. For flavor , you can add some sea salt, turmeric, cinnamon, and vanilla flavoring.
  8. John
    You are absolutely right!!
  9. Vicky
    My partner was given this rubbish after having cancer treatment for throat cancer. He fed through a tube into his stomach and this stuff made him feel so sick. At the time we were naive and followed medical instructions but of course the cancer came straight back at which time I realised that these meal replacements were lethal. I blended all his food, nuts, seeds, coconut milk, fruit veg, protein etc etc. every time we were in hospital we were treated like crap and they tried to starve him to force the rubbish on him. Unfortunately due to their 10 month delay in finding out the cancer had come back, the stress of how we were treated when in hospital (dehydration, starvation and negativity) and the vengeance with which the cancer had returned(I mean it had been fed Ensure 3 times a day for 10 months before they even admitted it had come back) we were unable to save him. I wish I had the knowledge from the start. I wouldn't give Ensure products to my worst enemy.
  10. Surely, as a physician, you can appreciate that a nuanced view is sometimes best.

    Sure, often it indeed is.

    But there's no need to waste nuance on something that contains *five times* more than the WHO recommended maximum amount of sugar. Especially not when it's sold with laughable marketing like "complete balanced nutrition to get strong on the inside".

    Sometimes it's best to just speak the simple truth. This is junk food, sold in a clever and utterly misleading way.

    Reply: #12
  11. Mike A.
    Of course that would be better, but not everyone has someone like you to do that for them. Don't confuse sub-optimal with "completely bad in any and all circumstances."
  12. Mike A.
    Even junk food, in certain circumstances, shouldn't be demonized as always bad. If someone has an eating disorder (in part because they think some foods are "completely bad in any and all situations"), I hope you wouldn't slap a Snickers bar out of their hands when they reach for one because it exceeds the recommended amount of sugar, has a high glycemic index, or contains high-fructose corn syrup.

    I agree with you that I find their marketing abhorrent. But their pushing this product in most any circumstance is a similar logical error as claiming it's always bad.

    Replies: #13, #14
  13. Apicius
    Mike A, you are defending an organization (Abbott) who is guilty of paying for biased research that promotes the cheap crap they make and market. Check out this organization that they prop up (http://malnutrition.com/alliance/abbottnutrition). It looks like a non profit organization, but it is funded by them to drive their propaganda and market the cheap liquid junk food. This is criminal behaviour. Dr Eenfeldt is correct. You are wrong. Please stop defending this product.
  14. Even junk food, in certain circumstances, shouldn't be demonized as always bad.

    I'm sure under some circumstances cigarettes are not all that terrible either. But we should still criticize companies trying to profit by promoting cigarettes as a healthy part of a balanced lifestyle. That would be unacceptably misleading marketing. Same thing.

  15. Mike A.
    The only thing I've advocated in these posts is a nuanced view instead of black-and-white thinking.

    Want to criticize the company? Go ahead. Want to criticize them for how they market this product? Makes sense to me. However, it doesn't logically follow that because Abbott may have done things wrong that this product is always something to be avoided. We could probably all cite numerous things the medical community has gotten wrong, yet we would not advocate that no one ever listen to Dr. Eenfeldt as a result. It's a simple logical mistake you all are making.

    The cigarette analogy is a bit tortured as we are no longer talking about nutritional products at that point, which all of us need. However, I take your point. Criticizing the company seems legit.

    Or try looking at it from the other perspective. Some people talk about "superfoods" and make miraculous claims about how they've saved their life. I suspect this kind of talk is bogus. However, I'm still correct to enjoy the benefits of a cup of blueberries from time to time. Their overstated claim doesn't change anything.

  16. Ms. Evan
    Mike A. - A man with common sense. I just want to say that I am nearly 34, and have never in all my life been so sick with the stomach flu. I am 6'0" and weigh 145lbs. I have very thin bone density overall and I am naturally thin. I fell ill a few weeks ago with non-stop diarrhea for 6 days straight. I literally thought I was dying. Regaining my ability to eat solid food has become a tremendous obstacle, because I am limited to the amount of food my stomach is OK with. And I am still getting sick if I eat anything that isn't bland. I'm now suffering with extreme side Effects of dehydration. Drinking Ensure is the only guarantee that I'm getting the nutrition my body desperately needs. I think anyone who is stating otherwise is in serious denial and has no formal education on how sugars are processed in a human with malnutrition and complete lack of vitamins. It really comes down to COMMON SENSE. I would highly recommend this type of product for any human who is sick with severe vomiting/diarrhea/fever sweating, the ELDERLY, and anyone with digestive issues NOT related to obesity/acid reflux/diabetes.
  17. CommonSenseOfLife
    I use Ensure myself. The point of it's existence is for moderate to severe malnutrition. A calorie is a calorie. The average ensure shake has 250 calories per serving. This beverage has saved my life, and gotten my strength back on well over a dozen occasions. I think society has a tendency to ignore biological science when it comes to how our bodies put on weight, and how we lose it. Sorry to hurt anyone in the following statement. It all comes down to body type, and activity level. Endomorphs typically have the hardest time losing weight, and keeping it off. They are the ones who can diet to near self obliterating points, and still not lose that much weight. Their bodies store fat much more readily than the next two body types: Mesomorph, and Ectomorph. Also, dieting is the wrong way to go. They should never drop below the bare minimum of 1,250 (F) 1,500 (M) calories required for BASIC life functions. Doing so only tricks the brain into thinking it's in starvation mode, and what's it going to do in that mode? Well, normally it would attack fat, but since it registers there is food still coming in, it's going to immediately store what it can as FAT, anticipating a future need for it. Somewhere there is a goldilocks zone in that. A point where the body burns more fat than it attempts to store, but this doesn't make it safe. Macronutrients, 27 of them in all, NEED to be ingested every day to avoid macrodeficiencies. Next, I'll cover Mesomorph. That body type easily builds muscle, and muscle consumes a lot of energy to function. It can also store body fat readily, but because of the high energy consumption of muscles, this goes mostly unnoticed if the individual is active, and healthy. EctoMorphs. This is the coveted body type of all wishful weight loss desiring people. (Before I go any further, I personally have a mixture of an Ecto, and Meso body types.) Ectomorphs have an extreme difficulty storing any fat, and even building muscle. The high metabolic rate of an ectomorph is not the primary reason, it's the genetics behind fat storing, and muscle building DNA codes. A mixture in this type though, can be fit, and lean at the same time, but require much more caloric intake to prevent muscle degeneration. In conclusion, what makes Ensure effective is that it is meant to have everything needed to both nourish, and gain weight in a body. The saying to much of anything, even if it's good, can be bad? Yeah, that's common sense. But for the purpose ensure is meant to serve, it is always a good thing for the malnourished, elderly, or pediasure for children who just won't eat, and are suffering developmental delays as a result. I am surprised that as an MD, you could be so ignorant of it's uses, and blantently call it bad. Ensure is nutritional therapy. If I have a headache, I take an aspirin. If I'm malnourished, that helps treat it. It's medical.
    Reply: #18
  18. bill
    There are only 3 macronutrients: fat, protein and carbohydrate. There are no essential carbohydrates.
  19. waeght
    You may be right but the way you wrote or replied in comments sound so rude and angry.

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