March 4, 1995 in Nation/World

Diet Food Too Lean Group Says Weight-Loss Program Dinners Lack Nutrition, Veggies

Dana Calvo Associated Press
 

Some of those low-calorie frozen dinners are more like snacks than square meals. And, not only that - you’re not getting enough veggies!

So says the research group that took some of the fun out of going to the movies when it reported last fall that a medium-sized bucket of theater buttered popcorn contains 43 grams of fat.

The Center for Science in the Public Interest says low-calorie, frozen dinners are not an acceptable nutritional substitute for a well-balanced meal. And some of the portions are simply too stingy, the center said.

Many dieters who enroll in weight-loss programs purchase dieter-friendly frozen food entrees to ensure they’re adhering to their program’s daily vegetable, protein, bread and fat intake.

The frozen entrees are low-fat, low-salt and low-cal, because they’re low-size, says the center. “Some of the portions are so small that they might better be described as snacks than meals or entrees.”

For example, the center said, Weight Watchers Nacho Grande Chicken Enchiladas, advertised as “stuffed with chicken, beans, corn and red peppers,” has one tablespoon of beans, one tablespoon of peppers and one-half tablespoon of corn. The center, interested in the vegetable content, did not measure the meat content.

But the company insists the frozen meals are entrees and not dinners. The company said dieters who attend Weight Watchers meetings are told by their dietitians to supplement the entrees with a salad or additional vegetables.

In addition, the two tablespoons of vegetables in the enchilada entree count as one vegetable exchange - or half a cup of vegetables.

Weight Watchers recommends consuming at least three half-cup portions daily, which, according to the enchilada entree label, is really six tablespoons of vegetables. Weight Watchers spokeswoman Sharon Greenspan pointed out that purees, sauces and bases - not just easily recognizable vegetables - count in the exchange.

The National Cancer Institute recommends Americans consume at least five to nine servings of fruit or vegetables each day, with a serving equaling about one-half cup.


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