Thursday, February 12, 2009

Ensure: Dubious Claims In A Can

One of the most popular ‘meal replacements’ drinks on the market today is Ensure. But, as its’ can claims, is it actually “ The No.-1 Doctor Recommended”? And, as its label boasts, is it truly a “Complete balanced nutrition to help stay healthy, active and energetic”? Or, is it just another pretend product posturing for the attention and pocketbooks of easy to fleece and trusting consumers?

Ensures’ main target market are the elderly, the sickly, and the poor, whose immune systems are already stressed and compromised because of their debilitating pre-existing physical conditions. In other words, healthy people are not the target consumers for this drink. They sell Ensure mainly to the sick and elderly. Although, over this past decade or more, they have tried to break away from this stereotype with other ‘enriched’ products targeted at other groups of adults.

In an ‘opinion’ piece, Mike Adams of, an expert in the field of natural health and usually an outspoken critic of ‘Big Pharma’, had only his opinion to share with his readers when he recently penned this piece entitled, “Opinion: Ensure is primarily sugar water, marketed with misleading statements that deceive consumers”. Why ‘opinion,’ is it or isn’t it? And, why would an expert shy away from telling you the truth in clear factual terms?

Well, after tracing the products' manufacturer listed in the article to its parent company Abbott Labs, the explanation became crystal clear. Ensure is a BIG selling product and it = BIG PROFITS! It dominates the marketplace as the # 1 selling ‘meal replacement’ drink worth billions in yearly sales.

Ensure is not a newcomer on the scene and has been around since 1974. It has gone through a number of marketing incarnations, and product enrichment's over these past three decades by a company with a professed proud tradition of more than a century of caring service: “A Promise for Life-Turning Science into Caring.” At least that’s what their website would tell you.

A little research into its history and it clearly becomes self-evident that both Ensure’s claims and Abbott Labs conduct as a responsible corporate entity has been nothing short of dubious and deceiving. This is not merely my ‘opinion’ but a statement of verifiable fact! For more proof go to these documented sites: ; and Or, simply Google ‘Abbott Labs settlements and lawsuits’.

With posturing prose that only a 25.9 billion dollars (last years sales) pharmaceutical company can afford, they glowingly embrace the best that they can be, on paper as well as on their website: While an unsuspecting public continues to be fooled by misleading statements that deceive them into believing that Ensure is all that it claims to be.

A cursory examination of the first four ingredients listed on the can should tell us all we need to know about the value of this product for your health:

3.Corn Syrup

Water! That’s a pretty pricey ingredient, at least within a can of Ensure. Then, we have sugar. Next is corn syrup, which we are all familiar with as a sweetener. So far, this sounds more like the ingredients in most soft drinks. Corn syrup is a refined carbohydrate with an extremely high glycemic index value. Continued and excessive corn syrup consumption has been associated with weight gain and the onset of diabetes.

The fourth ingredient Maltodextrin is another refined carbohydrate that’s also high on the glycemic index list. It is intimately linked to diabetes as well. I personally see no difference at all, nutritionally speaking, between sugar and the two other sweeteners listed. Mixed with water, they become as Mike Adams claims, “Primarily sugar water…”

Why would Ross Products, the manufacturer of Ensure state so boldly on the label that it is the “No.-1 Doctor Recommended”? I ask, ‘who’ are these doctors, and ‘why’ would they, should they be recommending ‘sugar water’ for anyone’s health?

What is equally shocking is that one of the instruction points on the side of the can states that, “To use as your only source of nutrition, see your doctor.” Are they kidding? This statement obviously implies that some ‘nutritionally challenged’ doctor somewhere could easily let a sick or elderly person depend on this drink to sustain them. My question to any ‘health conscious’ person is, “Is sugar safe?”

Sugar is a lethal substance. At least that’s what I know as a fact, for what it’s worth. Sugar, as you may or may not know has been linked with the following epidemic illnesses: diabetes, obesity, clinical depression, including various nutritional and mineral deficiencies.

It is also known to promote osteoporosis and heart disease. For over four decades, studies have conclusively shown that sugar is directly associated with personality disorders in children and adults; mood swings, and even violence, especially in males. Yet, we continue to feed it to our children by the pound!

Your pancreas and liver become stressed because of sugar and have to work overtime to metabolize it, which over time can create insulin sensitivity. If you do your homework, you will realize that sugar is a ‘non-food’ with zero nutritional value. And, it doesn’t take a genius to check out the literature by using Google Scholars’ search engine for the terms ‘sugar and diabetes’. Thousands of scholarly citations instantly pop up. Surely, this is enough proof for anyone.

Is it a “Complete balanced nutrition to help stay healthy, active and energetic”? For the sick and elderly, their target market, that’s exactly what they desperately need in their lives. Instead of being ‘in-bound,’ ‘bed-ridden’ or ‘immobile,’ they are looking to be ‘active and energetic.’ How do they produce this ‘active and energetic’ condition, by the sugar/carbohydrate rush alone, 60 grams of it per 8 ounce serving? Or, is their claim of “health” and “complete balanced nutrition” based on the rest of the cans’ ingredients?

Allow me to summarize my observations and comments regarding the rest of the cans’ contents. They mainly consist of a few genetically modified vegetable oils combined with a milk protein called calcium caseinate, and a few other vegetable proteins, probably genetically modified as well. And, to complete the contents, a list of various vitamins and minerals with their numeric values in dosage terms are also provided. But if you’ll notice, if you care to look, it is much less than the daily RDI (Recommended Dietary Intake). Even a one-a-day multi-vitamin capsule has more nutritional value!

The source of these ‘nutrients’ is not disclosed on the can. Knowing what I know about the food and pharmaceutical industries though, I would suspect that these last ingredients are not plant-based, and instead, synthetically and cheaply mass-produced in the laboratory for mass consumption in the marketplace. Calling these cheaply produced and de-valued nutrients “complete” or “balanced” is blatantly misleading, as well as deceiving. My statement of fact: A hefty price to pay for primarily sugar water!

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