Why Say No to Girl Scout Cookies As We Know Them
Some people are urging consumers to boycott Girl Scout cookies because the organization has allowed transgender children to join, but the reason people should say no to Girl Scout cookies has nothing to do with that issue. It’s a matter of health: in a nation where obesity is an epidemic, including among young people, it’s time to encourage young women to promote healthy eating habits.
Read the Girl Scout cookie ingredient labels
A visit to the Girl Scout cookie website that lists all the ingredients for the 16 varieties of cookies is enlightening. Keep in mind that the ingredients are listed in the order of their presence in the product.
Of the 16 cookies listed, flour and sugar are the first two ingredients in 12 of the varieties. Flour and sugar are rich in calories and simple carbohydrates, and not a healthy choice of ingredients. The four exceptions do not fare better.
- Samoas®, which lists sugar as the number one ingredient followed by partially hydrogenated vegetable oils, which are a source of trans fat.
- Trefoils™ and Dulce de Leche, both of which list flour as the number one ingredient and soybean and palm oil as the second. (Sugar comes in third.)
- Tagalongs®, which list peanuts first and sugar second, followed by partially hydrogenated oils
Girl Scout cookies and fat
The fat content on Girl Scout cookies is troublesome. According to the American Heart Association’s Nutrition Committee, the fat guidelines for healthy Americans who are age 2 years and older are:
- Limit your total fat intake to less than 25-35% of total calories per day
- Limit your intake of saturated fat to less than 7% of total daily calories
The saturated fat content of Girl Scout cookies ranges from a low of 1.5 grams (Savannah Smiles™), which equals 8% Daily Value, to 5 grams (Samoas, Tagalongs, Peanut Butter Patties®), which equals 25% Daily Value, to a high of 6 grams (Thin Mints, Caramel deLites®), for 29% Daily Value. The rest of the cookies fall somewhere in between, but many are high in saturated fat.
In nearly all varieties of cookies, the percentage of fat per serving is at least 30% of total calories. The percentage of fat calories per serving in some cookies approaches or surpasses 50%, including Trefoils (43%), Samoas (50%), Peanut Butter Patties (53%), and Tagalongs (57%).
None of the cookies have any vitamin A or vitamin C, and only two varieties note any calcium content (2% Daily Value). The low (2%-4%) iron is attributed to the use of enriched flour. All of the cookies have 1 gram or less fiber per serving.
Cookies are considered a treat, and some people can eat just one or two on occasion and don’t overindulge. But the lure of Girl Scout cookies, and other sugary, unhealthy treats, can be much too hard to resist for many people. And then there is always the pressure to buy the cookies, and not just one box but several. And so they get consumed.
Perhaps it is time to make a change in the Girl Scout cookie tradition, and since it is the 100th birthday of Girl Scouts USA, this may be the time.
Perhaps the century mark is the time for Girl Scouts to promote more healthful eating. Now could be the time to say no to Girl Scout cookies as we know them and introduce truly healthy choices. Maybe next year.
American Heart Association
Girl Scout Cookies.org
Image source: Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons