PediaSure…a source of complete and balanced nutrition for our kids?

When I was a kid, one of my favorite treats was chocolate milk. A great big glass of milk (whole milk, not skim) with a heaping tablespoon of Nestle Quik.

 PediaSure...a source of complete and balanced nutrition for our kids?

mmmmmmmmmmmmm good. I can almost taste it now.

True, it wasn’t the healthiest choice of beverage for a growing boy, but like I said, it was an occasional treat, and all of the good stuff in the milk helped to make up for the overdose of sugar in the chocolate milk powder.

Well, things certainly are different today. Today, good old fashioned chocolate milk has been re-placed, re-packaged, re-formulated and re-branded as PediaSure.  And unlike chocolate milk, PediaSure is being marketed to parents as a source of complete and balanced nutrition for our kids.

Ahhhh, wasn’t that adorable. The poor little kid doesn’t like broccoli or chicken or waffles. But she sure likes her PediaSure. And that’s good news for Mom and Dad, because PediaSure is “a source of complete and balanced nutrition…for healthy growth”….and it’s pediatrician recommended.

 PediaSure...a source of complete and balanced nutrition for our kids?

You can trust me, I’m a doctor

Kinda like the doctor recommendation cigarettes from back in the day….so maybe, we want to think twice about this whole doctor recommendation thing.

For just a second, let’s try to be objective and take a closer look at Pediasure and what exactly makes up this “child-friendly” beverage. (okay, I have to admit that didn’t sound very objective)

Here is a little chart I put together comparing PediaSure and my childhood addiction, chocolate milk.

pediasure vs chocolate milk PediaSure...a source of complete and balanced nutrition for our kids?

Note – I included a whole milk and a reduced fat chocolate milk in the comparison because I realize that no one drinks whole milk anymore because of the fear of cholesterol. And I am glad I did. It provided an interesting observation.

PediaSure v.s Chocolate Milk

Here are some of my observations:

  • PediaSure is higher in calories than both of the chocolate milk samples.
  • The higher calories is due primarily to a higher fat content
  • The higher fat content is a design feature of PediaSure. PediaSure is fortified with  life’sDHA by Martek Biosciences Corporation. DHA is an Omega3 fatty acid that has been shown to support brain development.

In fact, PediaSure ran another commercial highlighting the supplemental DHA in their product.

Here is some more info on life’sDHA. Feel free to scroll down if the details are too geeky for you.

  • life’sDHA™ from algae is a vegetarian source of DHA. It’s produced, from start to finish, in an FDA-inspected facility with controls in place to ensure the highest quality.
  • Martek’s microalgae are grown in fermentors that range in size from 80,000 to 260,000 liters. The algae are then harvested and processed to extract the DHA-rich oil. The finished product is a clear, amber-colored oil rich in DHA.

And as my regular readers already know, I am a big fan of DHA and Omega3s in general. There are lots of health benefits to supplementing your kid’s diet with Omega 3s.

Back to PediaSure v.s Chocolate Milk

  • All 3 samples have the same amount of protein
  • The reduced fat chocolate milk has the lowest amount of fat calories (duh!)
  • And it has replaced those fat calories with sucrose

But most important….

  • PediaSure has far and away the highest amount of Omega6 fatty acids

and when we look at their Omega6 to Omega3 ratios, we see that:

  • PediaSure has a 10.6 : 1 – Omega 6 : Omega 3 ratio, while
  • Whole milk chocolate milk has a 1.7 : 1 – Omega 6 : Omega 3 ratio

And, as I have said before, having a diet with a high Omega6 : Omega3 ratio, is a bad, bad thing.

NOTE: While I don’t want to get into the whole organic vs factory farmed mild debate, it should also be noted that organic milk  has been shown to have 71% more Omega3 fatty acids than conventional milk. Just some food for thought.

Here are a couple of studies – Study 1, Study 2

So, what does all of this mean?

  1. In my opinion, PediaSure is inferior to whole milk chocolate milk when it comes to feeding your kids.
  2. Kids don’t like broccoli. Never have, never will. But instead of giving up on feeding real, healthy food to your kids, go to your library and take out this book.
  3. Monkey see, monkey do. If you are eating junk for dinner, how are you ever going to convince your kids to eat healthy?
  4. Even if chocolate milk is healthier for your kids than PediaSure, please remember that it is not a wonder-food. It’s a treat…like dessert.

Reference

Doug Robb is a personal trainer, a fitness blogger and author, a competitive athlete, a social media nerd and a student of nutrition and exercise science. Since 2008, Doug has brought his real-world experience online via his health & fitness blog, Health Habits.

18 Comments

  1. nayse klucken

    February 6, 2013 at 8:10 pm

    I have to agree with Jenny, my 2 1/2 old daughter was below charts and she does not eat anything but mac and cheese, milk, pasta and she loves chocolate milk which I have been giving it to her for months now. However, she never gained weight, instead lost weight and it was below the charts. Pediasure was the only thing that made her gain weight and look healthy again. I mix with 2% milk and give her just 1/2 bottle per day. I really don’t like the fat contents and agree with your chocolate milk x pediasure, but this was my last resort and it worked.

  2. Nems

    December 22, 2012 at 12:45 pm

    Pediasure is not for normal kids. It’s for difficult kids who can’t or refuse to eat other things. OR kids who are sick and can hold down pediasure along with one or two other foods.
    Stop parent shaming people for giving their kids a product that is SUPPOSED to be high in fat. Pediasure is is designed to be able to completely replace solid foods if necessary. Go check the website. The pediasure sidekicks, are for those who have kids who will refuse to eat meals, or just graze throughout the day. 150 calories with 3 grams of fiber, and a mile long list of vitamins? I’m sold.

    If you actually do some research you will find hoards of stressed parents who had tried everything they could to get their child to eat enough to be healthy, and now sing the praises of Pediasure, even at it’s steep cost.
    8oz a bottle, at almost $2 a bottle, this stuff racks up, if you’re using it as milk, you are crazy.

    Next time stop and see what a product was really made for, before you go out and condem parents for not “doing their job” Pediasure was not ever supposed to be chocolate milk in a fancy outfit.

    • healthhabits

      December 24, 2012 at 8:59 am

      Your assumption that I am shaming parent is incorrect. Pediasure is an grossly inferior product being sold with very questionable marketing claims. There are a number of nutritional supplement companies that have meal replacement formulations that are far superior to Pediasure. Unfortunately, they don’t have the money, marketing budget or most importantly…medical industry clout to compete against Pediasure.

      Simply adding kid-friendly omega-3 fish oils and a whole food multi vit/min powder to a home-made chocolate milk shake made with real ice cream would be a far superior nutritional choice.

      The fact that they ARE marketing this product towards ALL children is what prompted me to write this article. While these inferior meal replacements (adults & kids) were originally intended for medical applications, they are now being targeted at the general population as a way to boost overall nutrition.

      Just because the manufacturer tells us that their product is great doesn’t mean it’s true.

  3. Mama pinky

    October 9, 2012 at 3:22 am

    Wow, Thankyou for the article. What an eye opener. You always believe you are doing the best for your children, especially when something is recommended by your paediatrician.
    I give my son two cups of pediasure as he is not too keen on food (his twin brother is the complete opposite!) and he loves it. I need to find a replacement for the pediasure and quick!

  4. Carissa

    October 6, 2012 at 8:59 pm

    Ovaltine. Hands down. The sugar is HALF that of Pediasure and it has a good amount of added nutrients and vitamins. ;) More Ovaltine please!

  5. EstellaWitt

    July 21, 2012 at 12:57 pm

    My Sons health nutritionist,pediatrician, AND while we had WIC. till we got on our feet his  wic case worker have all hawked Pediasure  for him being naive parents we pumped out hundreds at the store so he would have three a day but noticed no improvement minus bigger bowls we had him on it for a year too no growth and he eats quite healthy for a child, even likes broccoli   , wonder if they get a bonus lol. looking at the ingredients, soy, which is known to disrupt proper balance in hormones plus may be sourced from gmo, seeing the corn dextrose another gmo round up ready franken plant, all these additives. some you can’t even pronounce and others that are not all too healthy. i agree with you. this should not be recommended by any health professional nor nutritionist . we switched doctors and nutritionist and got far better advice. and he is far less rambunctious(another thing additives are known for causing behavior problems) seems that’s what most doctors do now a days , recommend snake oil without investigating like you did so wonderfully a huge thank you btw. they just take the latest thing like its a benefit and advanced  instead of really analyzing it. We started upping his fish intake and giving him bigger platters to pick and  choose from , the new nutritionist and pediatrician said the best ingredients don’t come from a drink or a pill, they come strait from the source. he’s grown rapidly since taking their advice. great full their are those who know what they are talking about and have their heart in their job. 

    • healthhabits

      July 22, 2012 at 6:00 am

      Especially with our kids, we all want a doctor to NOT rush through a diagnosis and just peddle the latest product being sold by Big Pharma. The value in a family doc is when they stop and THINK…like your new pediatrician and nutritionist. They spent all those years gaining knowledge…shouldn’t they put it to work instead of peddling drugs???

  6. jenny

    November 1, 2011 at 7:56 am

    I have a bottle of pediasure in front of me and it only has 150 calories, your other numbers are way off as well. And it was recommended by our pediatrician, our daughter isn’t even on the growth chart. So pediasure can be a good thing, especially if its the only thing the kid can tolerate, which was the case at the time. Pediasure and bananas kept her alive until the docs figured out her digestive problems. Now she is small for her age but catching up fast and it was because pediasure existed.

    • healthhabits

      November 1, 2011 at 5:58 pm

      http://pediasure.com/kid-nutrition-products/kids-nutritional-drink

      PediaSure Vanilla
      Nutrition Facts
      Serving Size1 bottle (8 fl oz)
      Servings1
      Calories240
      Calories from Fat80
      Amount Per Serving% DV*
      Total Fat: 9g14%
      Saturated Fat: 3g15%
      Trans Fat: 0g
      Cholesterol: 10mg3%
      Sodium: 90mg4%
      Amount Per Serving% DV*
      Potassium: 310mg9%
      Total Carbohydrate: 31g10%
      Dietary Fiber: 1g4%
      Sugars: 18g
      Protein: 7g14%
      Vitamin A 8% • Vitamin C 40% • Calcium 25% • Iron 20% • Vitamin D 30% • Vitamin E 20% • Vitamin K 20% • Thiamin 40% • Riboflavin 30% • Niacin 10% • Vitamin B6 30% • Folate 20% • Vitamin B12 25% • Biotin 15% • Pantothenic Acid 25% • Phosphorus 20% • Iodine 15% • Magnesium 10% • Zinc 10% • Selenium 10% • Copper 10% • Manganese 20% • Chromium 6% • Molybdenum 10% • Chloride 8% • Choline 15%*Percent Daily Values (DVs) are based on a 2,000 Calorie diet.

      Ingredients

      WATER, SUGAR (SUCROSE), CORN MALTODEXTRIN, MILK PROTEIN CONCENTRATE, HIGH OLEIC SAFFLOWER OIL, SOY OIL, WHEY PROTEIN CONCENTRATE, MEDIUM-CHAIN TRIGLYCERIDES; LESS THAN 0.5% OF: SOY PROTEIN ISOLATE, SHORT-CHAIN FRUCTOOLIGOSACCHARIDES, NATURAL AND ARTIFICIAL FLAVORS, CELLULOSE GEL, MAGNESIUM PHOSPHATE, POTASSIUM CITRATE, POTASSIUM CHLORIDE, CALCIUM PHOSPHATE, CALCIUM CARBONATE, POTASSIUM PHOSPHATE, SALT (SODIUM CHLORIDE), CELLULOSE GUM, CHOLINE CHLORIDE, SOY LECITHIN, MONOGLYCERIDES, C. COHNII OIL, ASCORBIC ACID, m-INOSITOL, POTASSIUM HYDROXIDE, CARRAGEENAN, TAURINE, FERROUS SULFATE, dl-ALPHA-TOCOPHERYL ACETATE, L-CARNITINE, ZINC SULFATE, CALCIUM PANTOTHENATE, NIACINAMIDE, MANGANESE SULFATE, THIAMINE CHLORIDE HYDROCHLORIDE, PYRIDOXINE HYDROCHLORIDE, RIBOFLAVIN, CUPRIC SULFATE, VITAMIN A PALMITATE, FOLIC ACID, CHROMIUM CHLORIDE, BIOTIN, POTASSIUM IODIDE, SODIUM SELENATE, SODIUM MOLYBDATE, PHYLLOQUINONE, CYANOCOBALAMIN, AND VITAMIN D3.
      CONTAINS SOY AND MILK INGREDIENTS.

      PediaSure SideKicks Vanilla
      Nutrition Facts
      Serving Size1 bottle (8 fl oz)
      Servings1
      Calories150
      Calories from Fat45

      Total Fat: 5g8%
      Saturated Fat: 1g5%
      Trans Fat: 0g
      Cholesterol: <5mg<2%
      Sodium: 90mg4%
      Amount Per Serving% DV*
      Potassium: 390mg11%Total Carbohydrate: 21g7%Dietary Fiber: 3g12%Sugars: 17g Protein: 7g14%
      Vitamin A 10% • Vitamin C 40% • Calcium 25% • Iron 15% • Vitamin D 40% • Vitamin E 20% • Vitamin K 20% • Thiamin 40% • Riboflavin 30% • Niacin 10% • Vitamin B6 30% • Folate 15% • Vitamin B12 25% • Biotin 15% • Pantothenic Acid 25% • Phosphorus 20% • Iodine 15% • Magnesium 10% • Zinc 10% • Selenium 10% • Copper 10% • Manganese 20% • Chromium 10% • Molybdenum 10% • Chloride 8% • Choline 15%*Percent Daily Values (DVs) are based on a 2,000 Calorie diet.

      Ingredients
      WATER, SUGAR (SUCROSE), MILK PROTEIN CONCENTRATE, SOY OIL, SHORT-CHAIN FRUCTOOLIGOSACCHARIDES, SOY PROTEIN ISOLATE; LESS THAN 0.5% OF: CELLULOSE GEL, WHEY PROTEIN CONCENTRATE, POTASSIUM CITRATE, NATURAL AND ARTIFICIAL FLAVORS, POTASSIUM CHLORIDE, MAGNESIUM PHOSPHATE, CALCIUM PHOSPHATE, SALT (SODIUM CHLORIDE), POTASSIUM PHOSPHATE, CELLULOSE GUM, CALCIUM CARBONATE, CHOLINE CHLORIDE, ASCORBIC ACID, CARRAGEENAN, SOY LECITHIN, MONOGLYCERIDES, m-INOSITOL, POTASSIUM HYDROXIDE, TAURINE, FERROUS SULFATE, dl-ALPHA-TOCOPHERYL ACETATE, L-CARNITINE, ZINC SULFATE, CALCIUM PANTOTHENATE, NIACINAMIDE, MANGANESE SULFATE, THIAMIN CHLORIDE HYDROCHLORIDE, PYRIDOXINE HYDROCHLORIDE, RIBOFLAVIN, CUPRIC SULFATE, VITAMIN A PALMITATE, FOLIC ACID, CHROMIUM CHLORIDE, BIOTIN, POTASSIUM IODIDE, SODIUM SELENATE, SODIUM MOLYBDATE, PHYLLOQUINONE, VITAMIN D3, AND CYANOCOBALAMIN.
      CONTAINS SOY AND MILK INGREDIENTS.

      USDA data – reduced fat chocolate milk

    • healthhabits

      November 1, 2011 at 6:09 pm

      From a nutritional standpoint, PediaSure is inferior to chocolate milk….based on the reasons I highlighted in the article

      However, if PediaSure and bananas were the only foods your daughter would tolerate, and they helped her put weight on, then I would have gone with the PediaSure and bananas as well.

      Heck, if all she would eat is pizza and coca-cola, but it helped kick start a growth spurt, I would be ordering pizza for dinner every night.

      Best wishes for you and your daughter

  7. Pingback: pediasure, perlukah? « serba-serbi

  8. ADK

    January 9, 2011 at 5:15 am

    Besides if you son is thin than why worry about health food I think it is pointless. Let kids enjoy eating what they can now, and worry about the body in later years. If you can get away with it than why not? I try my hardest to get as much fat in my kids food because it scares me that he is thin.

  9. ADK

    January 9, 2011 at 5:10 am

    Not to be rude but mixing different things in kids food is not going to make the kid want it. My daughter gets odd things mixed in her food at school, and she waits until she gets home to eat what we have. Kids just won’t eat unless they like, and feel comfortable about what they are eating. Some parents just have to learn to stop wanting things a certain way, and just feed the child what they will eat. If I didn’t do this my kid would be in the hospital he won’t eat like your son. I learned to take things slow, and find out what he will eat, but parents like us have no other option my son may also have autism because he behaves exactly like yours. No matter what you do nothing seems to work, but the kid has to eat so you and up finding things they will eat.

  10. C

    August 1, 2010 at 4:03 pm

    My 5 year old autistic son eats VERY little and only eats a very limited selection of foods (which is characteristic of his condition) – he only eats toast, sausages (which in my opinion are evil!), salmon fish fingers, pasta & ocassionally porridge. I don’t give him diary because it drives him insane & messes up his digestive system. In desperation I tried Ensure but he wouldn’t go near it. I’ve tried giving him jelly vitamins but he knows by the smell that they’re not regular jellies so won’t take them. I’ve blended veggies into his pasta sauce & tried hiding milled seeds into his porridge but again, like the jellies, he knows it’s different. He’s ridiculously sensitive to taste & smell so knows when I’m trying to ‘trick’ him by disguising healthy foods into his regular foods. I’ve tried everything but nothing works. I’m at my wits end! He’s very pale & thin. Any ideas would be GREATLY appreciated.

  11. McBloggenstein

    May 27, 2009 at 8:00 am

    I’ve not liked that commercial since I first saw it. Everytime I want to cook some typically not enjoyed (but very healthy) vegetable, like brussel sprouts or kale, and my girlfriend makes a face, I quote the little girl in that commercial…

    “I don’t think I like that!”

    Interesting blog post! I just looked at the nutrition info for Nesquik, and it seems even more superior to PediaSure because of its lower energy and comparable vitamin content.

    It’s funny because products like this are fine to consume as a supplement to an already healthy diet of an adolescent that requires a lot more energy per body weight than an adult, but the problem is most parents that buy this will be doing so to make up for a perceived inadequacy in their childs diet, rather than actually fixing the problem… which is their job as a parent.

  12. John

    May 25, 2009 at 4:46 pm

    Another excellent article.

    I was just thinking about two health and fitness issues today that I was hoping you could blog on.

    First, what are the best post-workout activities? Aside from slamming down a post-workout protein shake what else can I do to help my body recover and build strength and muscle? Should I take a short nap, a hot shower, a brisk walk? Is it better to jump in the sauna or a cold bath?

    I’ll save the second topic for another day.

  13. DR

    May 27, 2009 at 8:55 am

    Thanks for the topic idea John.

    I am looking forward to reading your workout posts.

  14. john K.

    May 27, 2009 at 10:59 am

    Did you see my latest post on the heavy bag exercises I’ve incorporated into my H.I.T. training and regular workout sessions. I have to be more creative now that it is summer time so I don’t have access to a gym.