For Release: June 5, 1996

Contact: Bill Bryant 202/332-9110 ext. 370, or

Jayne Hurley, ext. 353

Sweets on Steroids

Cookies, Croissants & Cinnabons: Fatty As Entire Meals

Many popular sweets contain shockingly high levels of calories and artery-clogging fat, and may be sabotaging our diets says the nonprofit Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI).

In its latest study, CSPI, the consumer group that blew the whistle on Chinese- restaurant food and movie-theater popcorn, analyzed 16 popular cookies, pastries, and other baked goods sold at Au Bon Pain, The Cheesecake Factory, Cinnabon, Mrs. Fields, Starbucks, and Vie de France. The results appear in the June issue of CSPI's Nutrition Action Healthletter.

"We weren't expecting the nutritional equivalent of broccoli," said Jayne Hurley, the CSPI nutritionist who conducted this and previous restaurant studies. "But we also didn't expect a Pecan Roll from Au Bon Pain to have 800 calories, 11 teaspoons of sugar, and more cholesterol-raising fat than an entire breakfast of two eggs, two slices of bacon, two sausage links, and two pancakes."

Among CSPI's other startling findings:

"The Cinnabon is a perfect symbol of everything that's wrong with the way Americans eat," said Hurley. "It has all the fat and calories of a full meal with almost none of the nutrients that you would want. And Americans swallow more than three million Cinnabons a month. No wonder one out of three adults is obese."

According to CSPI's study, a typical restaurant pastry weighs at least twice as much as a similar supermarket item made by Sara Lee, Pepperidge Farm, or Entenmann's. "These are sweets on steroids," said Hurley. "Mrs. Fields turns a brownie into a meal."

And thanks to ingredients like butter, shortening, margarine, whole eggs, chocolate, and cheese, many of these sweets pack a day's worth of saturated fat and trans fat -- the kinds that raise cholesterol.

Not quite all the news is bad, however. The best item that CSPI tested is Au Bon Pain's four-ounce Lowfat Triple Berry Muffin, which has only four grams of fat.

The Cheesecake Factory's Lite Cheesecake, with half the fat of the Original, is indeed "lite" -- though it is still far too fatty to be considered healthy. "You wouldn't want to try losing weight eating foods like this," commented Hurley.

Likewise, a Starbucks Cholesterol Free Blueberry Scone is anything but heart-healthy. It has a third of a day's worth of saturated and trans fat.

The six chains surveyed by CSPI have more than 1,600 outlets and annual sales of more than $664 million. Their sweets are probably typical of what's offered by other restaurants across the country.

"If they can't sell healthier items, at the very least these chains ought to disclose on their menus just how many calories their foods provide," said Michael Jacobson, CSPI's executive director. "Consumers have no idea how fatty many of these diet-busters are. If they knew, many people would choose healthier items -- or pack an apple or a bagel for a snack."

CSPI is a nonprofit health-advocacy organization that was founded in 1971. It is supported largely by the 750,000 subscribers to its Nutrition Action Healthletter and accepts no industry or government funds. CSPI is well-known for its studies of movie-theater popcorn, Chinese restaurants, and other foods eaten outside the home.

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