10/10/2012 05:13 BST | Updated 07/12/2012 05:12 GMT

Health Shop Snacks as Bad as Mars Bars?

This week I went to see remake of the sci-fi film Total Recall on the big screen. And, whilst I could write a blog post bemoaning this new Hollywood model of mutilating classics through remakes, all to cash in on already proven successes, and the nostalgia I felt for the symphony of brawn, wry humour and enigmatic acting skills that is Arnie, as I watched this less than engaging, banal offering, in keeping with the theme of health I must take an alternate route.

As always, when going to the movies getting some nibbles was a must. Now, at the risk of being called 'cheap' there was no way I was paying the inordinate prices that the cinemas charge for some popped kernels topped with a butter-esque like liquid which by 20 minutes into the film will be gone cold and seep through the container, making the popcorn soggy and leaving a cold damp patch on your lap. Especially, since this was a matinee performance, and there was no female companion I was conscious about impressing. Luckily, there was a health shop just a few doors down. Not only could I get some goodies, but I would not have to even feel guilty about consuming them. Or so I thought. Am I the only naïve one when I ask: surely one would think that this is where an individual goes when looking for the healthy option?

It really doesn't matter what health shop it was, they're pretty much all the same. And, inside there will always be a designated section with shelves laden with a vast assortment of appealing confectionary like products and drinks. All at heavily inflated prices compared to what the ordinary shops charge, but that's ok you think, that's the premium you pay for something that's good for you. That is until you pick up some of the products and look at the nutritional information.

Let's take a look at some;

(We will give benefit of the doubt and use 100g amounts where pack size exceeded 100g, but as we all know its very hard to stop nibbling when the open pack is there in front of you. In fact when we are under the impression it is not bad for us we are more likely to eat more)

  • Yogurt coated raisins - sugar content: 65.4 grams (15 teaspoons) /100g
  • Crystallised ginger - sugar content: 75 grams (17 teaspoons)/100g
  • Panda Licorice Mix - sugar content: 56 grams (12.5 teaspoons)/100g
  • 'Nakd' fruit bar - sugar content 25 grams (5.5 teaspoons)/68g
  • Seed and Bean - Fine Dark Chocolate bar - sugar content 42 grams (9.5 teaspoons)/85g

And, we could go on. The fact is most of the confectionary (besides the sugar free/diabetic products) in the health shop are a haven for the sugar-phile, and a calamity when it comes to our health. So much for the health shop slogans, 'we are good for you'.

If we look at known to be noxious food choices, such as Coca Cola (53g sugar/500ml) or a Mars bar (35g sugar/ 58g bar) the distinction between these rightly condemned products and what we find in a health store becomes indiscernible.

Now, don't get me wrong, health is not all about reducing everything to sugar content. And, I would much rather eat a product with additives such as 'paprika extract' or 'lemon oil' etc, compared to a list of unintelligible chemicals that sound something between Venusian and Esperanto. But, at the same time sugar is so ubiquitous and so deleterious to our health, as a population it is simply impossible to class it, or even allude to it, as being good for you in any sense. As any chef will tell you, you can't make a good beef wellington with rump steak. So, no matter how good the other ingredients are if the meat is junk (or rotten in the case of sugar) the end result will still be rubbish.

We also have this new phenomenon of taking any old crap and slapping the quasi-magical tag 'organic' on it (products increasingly found in health shops as well as mainstream stores) to imply that it is now good for you. Another deplorable stunt made by a shameless food industry only interesting in maximising profits.

It's back to school for the ABC s of nutrition for these health stores, lesson one: is the sugar content high? If so, dump it!