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The Truth Behind Fat Free or Low Fat Food Which No One Has Ever Told You

October 17th, 2008 · 9 Comments ·
 
 

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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.

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4 Things You Need To Know About Low Fat Food

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

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  4. 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!

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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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Category: Nutrition


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9 responses so far ↓
  • Angie Tan // Oct 17, 2008 at 11:11 AM

    I had my suspicions about low-fat labels when I first tried out a particular brand of low-fat milk. When I took the same brand’s standard milk, I noticed that the low-fat version was way sweeter. That got me to looking at labels to see which ingredients were inside. I found sugar.

    In some non-fat foods, you might find substitutes for sugar – aspartame, which is quite alarming. That got me thinking that this was all nonsense.

    Anyway, best to take fresh food and less processed foods even if it has that low-fat label on it…

  • eksk // Oct 17, 2008 at 3:37 PM

    Fat is not the problem here.. its carbs people….

  • Jessie // Oct 17, 2008 at 11:55 PM

    True to what Angie said, take more fresh food and fruits, and less processed foods. I’ve learned label reading a long time ago and know that many times, when food items says FAT FREE, the fat is replaced by something else. For instance, the box of ice cream you buy may have claimed FAT FREE but the taste is replaced with tons of sugar. Or it may say SUGAR FREE, but it has tons of cream and processed oils (eg. hydrogenated oil).

  • Tom Parker // Oct 21, 2008 at 5:43 AM

    Fantastic post Mun. ‘Low fat’ products are such a con. In most cases they’re still highly processed and full of unnatural ingredients which don’t do our bodies any good.

    My opinion is that if you are going to indulge then don’t go for the ‘low fat’ products. Go for the ones that you enjoy but just enjoy them in moderation as part of a healthy, balanced diet.

    I don’t think that cookies or cakes are ever going to be healthy – whether they are ‘sugar free’ or ‘fat free’.

  • Coach_Sally // Oct 22, 2008 at 12:08 PM

    I’ve been taking care of my diabetic mother & after having to read ALL labels of everything she eats, I agree! The non-fat, low-fat items had more of the stuff you really shouldn’t have.

    The doctors and nurses kept telling her she can eat those and be safe. If they took the time to read the labels they would know that is far from true. Maybe they should observe a person for 24/7 instead of 10 minutes out of their 9 to 5. You would be surprised how they would trigger her sugar spikes. Good blog – get this word out!!!

    Watch those carbs – I got mom turned around now.

  • Ria // Oct 29, 2008 at 9:15 AM

    This is a great post!

    I’ll share something about my husband. Slightly off-tangent, but I think what you’ve said applies here:

    My husband is allergic to the low-calorie version of the Philippines’ most popular beer, San Miguel (San Mig Light). Yet he has no allergic reactions to the “normal” version of it. People have been commenting that this is weird because they thought the low-calorie version should have less ingredients than the normal version. After reading your post I realized this is not so.

  • Tami // Nov 25, 2008 at 6:35 PM

    Did you know that there are more restrictions on dog food than there is on human food? Apparently our bodies can eat anything… So when they take away fat they can add whatever they want to replace it. Is this going to be good for our bodies? Are the companies who produce ‘fat free’ labels really wanting to look after our health? answer – doubtful

    As me ma always said
    If an ingredient has more than 4 syllables in 1 word, Or if you can’t pronounce it. it’s probably not meant to be in our bodies. (^_^o )

  • carrie // Dec 11, 2009 at 7:21 AM

    thanks for the tip i have always had suspicions with those foods. my dauter did her science fair project on low-fat foods and this internet article was one of her sorces. i learned a lot and so did she. thanks for posting this

  • Sheryl T // Jan 21, 2010 at 7:35 AM

    I was very interested in your study and found my answer plus I know how to shop better,thank-you…

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