Low-Calorie Oatmeal?

A restaurant press release mentions “low-calorie oatmeal” when discussing menu nutrition.


A bowl of oatmeal (one cup cooked is the FDA-defined serving size) has 165 calories even before any sweetener or toppings are added. To qualify as “low calorie” a serving of food must have no more than 40 calories. Just because a food is relatively healthy or a good source of nutrients (oatmeal is a good source of fiber and iron) does not mean it is low in calories. Very few foods are actually low in calories. Those that are tend to be high in water (and therefore not “caloric-dense”), including most vegetables and some fruits, but never grains, which by definition are mostly starch, not water. The easiest way to lower the calories of any food is to lower the portion size, but to make a “low calorie” claim, the data must be given for a standard/regulation serving size so that everything is compared using the same guidelines. For oatmeal, that portion size must be one cup cooked, therefore oatmeal is never “low in calories.”

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