Peter Lehndorff

Peter Lehndorff
Hampden, Massachusetts, US
February 17
Lehndorff Design
This blog is called "A Marriage of Convenience" at least for the moment. It is the title of a song I wrote and it seems to fit the stuff I might want to cover here. Music, graphic design, art and a bunch of other life stuff. I write songs about everyday life and perform occasionally. My wife Kathy and I have a little graphic design business. We do a little of this and a little of that and are involved in basset hound rescue. We also have been creating greeting cards.


Editor’s Pick
JANUARY 3, 2011 8:17AM

Yogurt math: 40+40=70

Rate: 7 Flag

The Activia Challenge rules

I admit it. I stink at math. I can balance my checkbooks because it is mainly just subtraction. (I wish there were more additions, but times are tough.) I eat a lot of yogurt and had a coupon for Activia. Activia may help some folks with their regularity; Letting go, so to speak.There have been articles lately that the claims are "overblown". I just bought it as yogurt. Taste seems OK in the plain version. The vanilla version has Splenda in it. So if you want Danon's No artificial anything™ look elsewhere. To be fair, this package doesn't claim that.

But maybe because I'm a designer I try to read labels and warnings and package type. What I'm trying to figure out is how they figure calories.

Activia calories

According to the label each 4oz. serving provides 70 calories.
Therefore if I eat two separate 4oz. servings that would be 140 calories.
I could have all 8 oz. at once and consume 150 calories. I am wondering if I pick at it, one spoonful at a time, it will be even less. Like I said, I'm mathematically challenged, but I always thought 150 ÷ 2 = 75. Who knew!

  visual tricks

The package shape has a visual trick also. The lid is the same size circle as a regular 32 oz. package but the package is only 24 oz. It's marked clearly on the front. Since yogurt is usually on lower shelves, viewed from above the lids all look the same. The actual tub is narrower. But maybe by their math I'll lose (or loose?) more weight buying smaller servings at a time.

If that isn't confusing, should you decide to take The Activia Challenge the rules are written conveniently underneath the foil seal thing on the top, (see top photo). It is covered with a layer of yogurt. So, if you decide to lick off said yogurt to read the rules you have consumed the missing calories mentioned above.

With that in mind I've been making my own yogurt. I have no idea what the calories are. But at least I won't get a headache trying to figure out the label.

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Ok, that's too weird! I agree with you abut 150/ does! So how did the label "magically" deduce that 70 times 2 equals 150? I'll have to look closely to the "math" on the nutrition labels...where did these people graduate?
I do walk while I read them. I have knocked over store displays and a little Italian lady. But some of them are facinating. Some peanut butter labels point out that they are made in a plant that processes peanuts. Really?
Ha. Yeah, labels can get funky with the math. The thing to notice is that when you look at the servings per container, it says "about3" and "about 6" for the serving count. So maybe there's enough variability that they are rounding their nutrition numbers to the number closest to a multiple of ten. Like, for example, let's say there are actually 73 calories... Maybe they are rounding their calories DOWN to the nearest ten (for example 73 to 70)for the smaller value but rounding them UP to the nearest ten for the larger value (146 to 150).

I started out making a joke, but as I write this, I see that I'm actually not being facetious, as that's probably the reason it's like that. But that is a really silly thing to do.

As if people concerned about calories (me included) need to be rounding down.
Rounding down or up. I just know I'm rounding.
Great point here. I always wondered how yogurt became symbolic of dieting. It has a lot of sugar in it.
Best Wishes,
Hahaha.... great post and congrats on EP and making cover!
As an aside, I don't know if I've ever seen a calorie listing on a package that didn't round to the nearest 10.
Yogurt is gross. Don't eat it.
Now who is only going to eat 4 oz of yogurt? -R-
Yogurt makers are now required to have graduate degrees in non-linear algebra and N-dimensional topology whereas most consumers can barely do simple arithmetic. If Danon says 70+70=150, I would believe them.
You don't quite get how they arrived at those numbers, lol.

Food manufacturers use the "4-4-9" system for determining calories: 4 calories/g for protein and carbs; 9 calories/g for fat. In addition, the FDA rules permit manufacturers to round the protein and carb grams up or down to the nearest 1g increment (fats are a bit more complicated, but since this is a nonfat product, we can skip that).

Ok, so according to the label above, the 8 oz. serving contains 27g carbs and 10g protein... which works out to 148 calories. Since this is more than 50 calories, the "rules" permit rounding to the nearest 10 calorie increment: so it's reported on the label as 150 calories.

The 4 oz. serving follows the same rule: 13g carbs (not 13.5!) and 5g protein... which works out to 72 calories. In this case, you have to round down to the nearest 10, which is why there's 70 calories reported on the label.

Yes, the rounding makes it "fuzzy" - but that's how the system works. And it's not like the small error involved is going to make anyone fat... so I don't worry about it. ;-)
Oh, forgot to mention...

The claims ARE overblown, according to the FTC:
I always read the labels too. I hadn't caught that math error before. That's funny!
The whole label thing is such a sham. The food lobbyists watered it down to be almost meaningless in creative ways.

Like listing the nutrition information for portion sizes that are smaller than the whole package, and at times it's not an exact fraction. And then the whole idea that when groups test the contents they often find the numbers incredibly 'wishful thinking' and wildly inaccurate.

I had heard that the EU had better and more meaningful nutrition labels and while looking for an example stateside I came across a box that came from England and the 'wonderful EU nutrition information' was covered by a sticker with the US nonsense...
Oh, and on packaging sizes, it's all a game... Either the package gets smaller or the package gets emptier.

I've noticed it many times.

I used to buy Grandma's Old Fashioned Peanut Butter Cookies until the price went from $.50 to $.79 and the size when down about 20%! And it happened at the same time! Pay more for less. I knew my grandmother was a bitch but she wasn't that nasty...
Oh, and I think it's Activia that I can't stand because I can taste the plastic from the container in every spoonful. YEECH!!!
First of all thanks for all the feedback! I'm so nervous, I'll probably eat the 8 oz. portion.

I guess the most informative reply came from elly1021. I didn't know how they figured calories out. So, WadeS had the right guess that they round up or down depending. I think it's probably a case of too much information on Danon's part. Just give us the 8 oz. portion numbers. So it wasn't a math error just a government loophole. I agree the "approximate portions" numbers are less than helpful. The rounding of the numbers by the FDA might explain why hardly any US packages list Trans fat but many list hydrogenated oils etc. in their ingredient list.

As far as yogurt as a diet food, Blittie, I know, most are loaded with sugar or preserves (aka fruit). And most are not fat-free so you really have to read those labels. Unfortunately, it is one of the only forms of milk I can digest (I won't go into details). So it has to be fat free or low-fat and not have a lot of sugar in it.

As far as the package trickery goes, there is a part of me that wants all packages to be an environmentally efficient size for the contents - without a lot of dead space. Some manufacturers are getting the message and it saves them money. I don't think this is the case here. There isn't any dead space in a yogurt container. As far as the taste goes, I guess I like yogurt. Like I said the Vanilla is fat free but has Splenda. I remember Consumer Reports tested it for taste and didn't like it. The plain is low-fat so it has more calories but to me tastes decent. Our grocery store doesn't stock it anymore. I like the stuff I'm making (when it comes out right).

Thanks for all your comments. I've gone from a WTF moment to learning something.
Ha! Now that it's January, yogurt is back on the menu. Fun stuff here!
I've tried Activia and I found it moved me a bit too much. I wonder if vegetarianism has anything to do with that. No doubt the exact vegetarian diet I follow would be a required variable, but maybe it's just my metabolism. I lean more toward something that will keep it in rather than get it out.