Last weekend, when my mother and I went do grocery shopping, she saw her holding two different brands of yogurt. One is her favorite, the other is a new brand with big words of “LOW FAT”. When we were lining up paying for the stuffs, I thought she would have gone with her favorite brand, but I was surprised that she has chosen the new brand with low fat, even its is price higher.
Just like my mum, when many thought that they have made better choice with low fat yogurt or low fat milk or even low fat candy, seldom do they realize that they have actually been “outsmart” or misled by this overly used marketing term. So, in this post, let’s talk about this topic and I shall uncover the truth about “low fat” gimmick.
4 Things You Need To Know About Low Fat Food
- First, when the manufacturers reduce fat, it usually adds other ingredients to make up for the taste. Fat is used to add flavor and texture to foods. If you look at cream cheese, the regular version and the fat free version, you will find out that the fat free product has twice as many ingredients than the regular version. Do not be surprised to find out that the fat-free one has more sugar, sodium or gum. Emulsifiers get the ingredients to stick together, and thickeners normally account for most the rest of the additional ingredients. In short, though these fat replacers replicate the qualities that fat gives to food, including taste, they are not necessarily healthier than fat.
- Second, do this experiment with your friends. Get a pack of M&M and put them into two bowls, labeling one as regular M&M and another one as low fat M&M. Put these two bowls in front of the TV and get your friends to eat them while watching movie. At the end of the movie, you will find that more people will prefer the low fat one and in fact, they eat them more. The cruel twist is that this “fake” label have dramatic impact to get people to overeat when they see something with a low-fat label. If people are looking for an excuse to eat junk food, low-fat label has given them a good reason to do so.
- Moreover, when the label says low-fat, it can be only fewer calories than the regular ones, but most people think that they have much lower fewer calories. For example, each low-fat Oreo cookie has 50 calories whereas the regular version has just over 3 calories more. With low-fat food label, people tend to overeat a product with guilt-free abandon.
- Now, the real trick is this. Many foods still have fat when they are advertised with the big word of “FAT FREE” yet authority allows them to do so. Why? Take one cooking spray as example – one serving size is defined as 0.25 gram of product which has 0.05 gram of fat. Because it is less than 0.05 gram per serving, it is rounded to zero and therefore it is called fat free! Because of this regulation “loop hole”, many manufacturers have purposely reduced the serving size in order to use the term “Fat Free’ legally. If you look at the fat contents per 100 gram, you will realize that it is actually not totally fat free.
Companies have taken advantage of people’s fear on fat. Therefore, they charge more for the so called “healthier” fat free food and customers are willing to pay more…and in fact, ended up eating more!
In short, low-fat food label does not give you a license to overeat, especially junk food. Low fat does not mean it is good because most has been loaded with sugar. So, it is time to read the details breakdown at the back of the food yourself and not being misled again.
OK, it is time to get my mum to read this post.
To find out more about healthy eating tips, check out Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think by Brian Wansink.
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