Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The Activia Challenge

Activia yogurt by Danone.
Few weeks back, I happened to mention to a friend of mine that my daily diet includes Activia yogurt. He seemed puzzled because he always felt that Activia was meant for women.

Activia is basically a yogurt (a nice tasty yogurt, I must admit) that has a special culture called "Bifidus ActiRegularis" added. This "good bacteria" is supposed to reduce digestive comfort.

The yogurt is heavily promoted here in the middle east and most of the advertisements do seem to be focused on women but I never paid much attention to that. After all, most of the body soap that I use is advertised by semi-naked to naked women yet that has not stopped me from using body soap.

Even their website seems to target the product for women. I got the following blurb from their website.

"Don't just take our word for it: 82% of WOMEN with digestive discomfort said they felt better after eating one or two pots of Activia® a day**." Source.

It is strange that even the manufacturer seems to target the product for women. After all, it is basically a yogurt. I wonder why they would choose to exclude 50% of their potential customer base?. Of course, their FAQ clarifies this by indicating that Activia is not just for women.

"Yes, Activia is suitable for the whole family, including children age three and older, who are looking to eat a healthy, balanced diet." Source.

Activia yogurt that is available in the middle-east is not low-fat, so people who are looking to cut down calories will need to look elsewhere. There are about 100 calories in one pot of Activia plain yogurt and around 125 calories in the flavored version. 

While doing my research, I found this very interesting article from Slate,com that questions the science behind the so called "good bacteria". If the author of the article is to be believed (and he cites sources), there is no clinical proof that Activia does what it says it does. i.e. reduce digestive discomfort.

I started taking Activia yogurt because the change in my diet started causing discomfort for me. Since I was very confident of my diet choices, I needed something to reduce the discomfort and thought I'll give Activia a try. If it works, then fine. If it does not work, then no harm done since I would have taken some other yogurt anyway.

After about 2 weeks or so (The Activia marketing material claims you need to take it for 14 days to get results), I started feeling better. I don't know if it is a placebo effect or if my body got adjusted to the new diet or whether it is a result of the Activia yogurt.

All I know is that I love the taste of the yogurt and it will now become an integral part of my long-term diet plan.


  1. I like it, but Labneh has the same effect for me :)
    Or plain simple 'natural' yoghurt.
    And it's much cheaper (well, I don't know the price here, but in Europe Activa is ridiculously expensive!)

  2. Nicole, Activia here in Kuwait costs the same as regular yogurt. 100 fils for a pot and 150 fils for the flavored version.

    I should give that Labneh a try.

  3. I really don't know what is the deal with Activa, but it works. I have one liban and one pot of plain yogurt that I add some dates to sometimes. As you said, it does taste good.

  4. I'm not sure how activia works but it works! :) Although Activia contains a flax seed oil preparation I add a spoon of powdered flax seed for added fiber.

    ps. Activia mango flavor is available now :)