A Bag of Chips a day = 5L of vegetable oil a year.
A packet of crisps a day = 5 litres of cooking oil a year.
Pack of chips a day equal to five litres of cooking oil a year.
The messages suggest that eating a pack of chips every day is equivalent to drinking 5 litres of vegetable cooking oil a year. It is a fact with some misinformation.
The consumption of chips, or crisps as they are called in America, has become popular over the years, and people of all age groups, including children are habituated to it. This habit has grown to become a kind of addiction among children and there came up the health concerns about it. Chips are generally deep fried or baked until they become crunchy, which is why over consumption is associated with health risks, especially in children.
Reports of Chips Consumption
In 2006, BBC News reported about a study of British Heart Foundation which said nearly one fifth of children in U.K eat two packets of crisps per day. It was said that a typical 35g pack of crisps contained about two-and-a-half teaspoons of oil, while a larger 50g pack contained three-and-a-half. This way experts warned that half of the UK children who had this pack-a-day crisp habit thereby “drink” almost 5 litres of cooking oil every year. In fact the BHF (British Heart Foundation) started a Food4Thought campaign, advertising with a picture of a girl drinking cooking oil that had a caption saying “What goes into crisps goes into you“. The campaign highlighted the unfair marketing of junk food products to children and also aimed to expose the hidden salt, fat and sugar in common foods.
In 2013, Daily Mail reported about a YouGov poll which found that one third of children in U.K eat crisps every day, the other two-thirds eating them several times a week. It was said that the manufacturing companies design these chips or crisps to be addictive – as their loud crunchy noise and easy to dissolve aspects make them pleasant to eat and increase the craving.
SNACMA Response to Claim
SNACMA, the Snacks, Nuts and Crisps Manufacturers Association disputed the claims of BHF saying that they are “over-estimated”, that their calculation of oil content was based on large crisp packets. It also pointed that vegetable oil in potato crisps is an integral ingredient, so as such it cannot be called ‘drunk’.
I’ve heard that eating one packet of crisps a day for a year is the equivalent of “drinking” 5-litres of oil? Is this true?
The vegetable oil in potato crisps is an integral ingredient in the food and as such cannot be said to be ‘drunk’. Even if the oil was completely separated for the potato ingredient and was consumed as a liquid, a 5-litre figure would significantly overestimate either the amount of crisps or else the amount of oil present as an ingredient by around 40%.
If you were to eat one standard 25g packet of potato crisps (size representative of approx 70% of the market) per day for an entire year you would be eating slightly more than 3 kg of sunflower oil (approx 3.3 litres).
The 5-litre figure was produced by the British Heart Foundation (BHF) in 2005 as part of its Food4Thought campaign(17) and was disputed by SNACMA at that time. BHF claimed that half of UK children had a pack-a-day crisp habit and based its calculation on 50g portions. BHF also claimed that nearly a fifth of children ate two packets of crisps per day.
However, the BHF’s claims contradict the Government’s own NDNS data(5) which includes estimated intakes for children. The latest data shows that average daily consumption of savoury snacks by boys and girls (as a whole category including many low fat products) is currently 12g. This is significantly lower than the BHF’s 50g figure.
In addition its worth pointing out that larger single-serve packets make up a minority of the UK market and that according to the 2010 NDNS crisps and savoury snacks contribute only around 5% and 6% of boys and girls daily intake of fat.(7)
Over consumption of these chips/crisps is definitely not good for health, as they are made from oil. According to SNACMA, consuming a 25g packet of potato crisps a day for an entire year would be equivalent to eating approximately 3.3 litres of sunflower oil, which can certainly have health effects in long run. Moreover, SNACMA clearly mentions that:
We do not advertise to children under the age of 16.
So it is evident that consuming chips regularly is not a good habit for children. Although the manufacturing companies are working to reduce these harmful ingredients, they still can have health effects in long term, especially when it becomes an addiction.
Health Effects of Consuming Chips/Crisps
This issue is not just about the oil content in these chips, they also contain other fat, sugar and salts, excess of which can again be harmful. Over consumption of chips/snacks has become such a big concern that some reports suggest it as the largest contributor of the obesity epidemic, especially among children.
Potato chips are also reported to be unhealthy for pregnant women. This is because of formation of a toxic chemical in the snacks called Acrylamide, a nerve poison which is linked with damage to DNA of unborn babies. Eating excess of chips or other snacks regularly is also known to cause sleep defects and tooth decay.
As the British Heart Foundation suggested, excess consumption of these chips, crisps, French fries and similar snacks can have long term health effects which can lead to obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes and even coronary diseases. So it is important to keep it moderate, especially in children.
Hoax or Fact:
Fact with some misinformation.