FITSHIT Reviews: Bournvita for Women

A quick review of new products claiming to be healthy

If you live in Mumbai, you’ve most probably come across billboards of this product. Bournvita for Women. A female-friendly variant of the iconinc children’s malt drink — Bournvita.

Bournvita has been making big, bold claims about this ‘designed for women’ product. And spending big money getting that message out to the world. So it’s only fair that someone verified their claims and held them accountable.

As luck would have it, it’s FITSHIT Sunday. Brace yourself, Bournvita.

The Claims

There are 2 Big Claims on this pack.

One is the ‘Acti-Strength’ Formula, that’s supposed to provide you with 100% of your Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) of Iron, Calcium and Vitamin D.

Second, and my personal favorite, is the ‘No Added Sugar’ claim. Which should need no explanation. But as I’m sure you’ve guessed, it does.

Acti-Strength Formula

First up, it isn’t some proprietary formula. The product has Calcium, Iron, Folic Acid and Vitamin D, and they decided to just call a ‘bundle’ of these 4 as ‘Acti-Strength’. It’s more a pet-name than a formula.

Anyway, let’s not get stuck in the semantics and quickly check whether all that they claim this formula to do, is true?

It is. The product does deliver the Recommended Daily Dosage of these 4 items. If, you consume 2 Servings per day.

Hidden away at the back is this (one of 4 such) caveat:

Now 2 servings of this beverage, which let’s say you’ll consume with milk, would be about 300+ calories.

So the question really is whether, to get this Calcium, Iron and Vitamin D, you should be spending a fifth of your daily calorie quota, on this beverage?

Which, brings us to the second claim:

No Sugar Added

If you’ve been a regular reader of this column, you know that this is where most manufacturers lose my respect, my faith, and my money. You won’t be surprised to know, Bournvita ain’t no different. But they are the most ingenious liars I’ve come across in the Indian market yet.

Allow me to explain.

If you see the nutritional information, the first thing that should strike you is that 100gm of this product has 369 calories. That’s ~4kcal/gm.

Now we know that 4kcal/gm is either carbs or proteins (fat = 9kcal/gm). And since only 12.5gm of this product is protein, almost all of the rest, must be carbohydrate. That’s alarm bell number 1.

But let’s give them the benefit of doubt. Maybe it is the good kind of carbs. The fibrous, gut-friendly, bowel-moving kinds. Because as the pack proudly claims, it isn’t sugar. So it must be something else.

Even when you turn the pack and see the nutrition info under carbohydrates, the story holds.

I must admit. They had me fooled for a second. Does this product really not have ANY sugar!! Wow. I’ll be damned. And go kiss their feet. But then something caught my eye.

Do you see the SUCROSE written in brackets next to sugar? And that too has a star mark next to it. These star-marks are the gate-keepers of sorcery in the food world. They don’t bode well.

There. Bubble bursts. If it’s too good to be true, it isn’t.

The Trickery

Here’s what the smart marketers at Bournvita did.

They conveniently decided that for the dumb Indian consumer, only ‘Sucrose’ aka Refined Sugar, is Sugar. Every other form (fructose, dextrose) coming from every other source (malt, milk solids, sugar alcohols), isn’t.

Once they’d had this very convenient realisation, they removed all information of all these other sugars from the nutritional information table, and relegated it to a small-font star-mark hidden away at the bottom of the pack.

64% Sugar

That’s what this product is. It is 35mg Iron, 300mg Calcium, 16.7 mcg Vit D. And 64 GRAMS of sugar.

You still want to chose this as your source for those nutrients?

And that sugar comes from shit sources like Cocoa Solids and Maltodextrin. And as if this much sugar wasn’t enough, they’ve also added artificial sweeteners to make the product even sweeter. Not to mention, a lot of Artificial Flavors to boost.



Don’t buy this. There are tons of veggies and meats out there for your Iron, Calcium and Vitamin D requirements. If you can’t get those, I’d say you’re better off popping a pill and making up the gap. Atleast it doesnt come with all that sugar.

But what really riles me up against such products, is the lengths to which these marketers go to fool their consumers.

This method of considering only sucrose as sugar is so ingenious, it must have come out of long deliberations and intentional actions. It isn’t a mistake. They wanted to confuse us into believing that this is a healthy drink. And they went to great lengths to hide their lie. And that’s just unpardonable.

PS: Full disclosure. I work with Unilever. And all views expressed here are personal. They’ve got nothing to do with my day job.

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