Trying to eat healthier? You’re in luck! According to President Barack Obama, Flamin’ Hot Cheetos qualify as a nutritious snack — seriously.
When the Obama administration debuted the new nutrition guidelines last year, its goal was to limit the amount of junk food accessible at schools.
Though most of the country wrote off the guidelines as far too strict, Frito-Lay, the maker of Cheetos, saw a challenge — and an opportunity.
Using Obama’s nutrition standards as a guideline, Frito-Lay reformulated the Flamin’ Hot recipe, cutting fat and salt and adding in whole grains.
In doing so, Frito-Lay ensured its product could still be available in schools, a major source of revenue for snack food companies.
Virginia Stallings, the chair of the federal committee that formulated the country’s new nutrition rules, lamented, “I thought the top sellers might be things that had more nutrients in them than Flamin’ Hot Cheetos.”
“But,” she added, “one of the things we were absolutely expecting and appreciating is that food companies would look at these recommendations and they would, in fact, reformulate their products.”
But does meeting a few premeditated guidelines really mean Flamin’ Hot Cheetos are healthy?
“Of course not” says Marion Nestle, a nutrition professor at New York University. “If you set up nutrition standards, the food industry can do anything to meet those standards.”
Though it’s certainly a step in the right direction (the new Cheetos are absolutely healthier than their full-fat counterparts), the fact of the matter is obesity will continue to plague the country until we all adopt an entirely different approach to eating — one that focuses on eating whole foods from natural sources.
Because, in the end, a wolf in sheep’s clothing is still a wolf — and whole-grain Cheetos are still Cheetos.