Stop yourself! Do you think reduced-fat Oreos contain less fat compared to full-fat Oreos?
These top class products may be misleading you, as a study warns that no-fat or no-sugar, low-fat or reduced-salt on food packaging may give consumers a sense of confidence before they purchase, but these claims rarely reflect the actual nutritional quality of the food. The study appeared in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
‘In many cases, foods containing low-sugar, low-fat or low-salt claims had a worse nutritional profile than those without claims.’
The findings indicated that 13 percent of food and 35 percent of beverage purchases had a low-content claim (including no, free, low or reduced) and that low-fat was the most common claim, followed by low-calorie, low-sugar and low-sodium. "In many cases, foods containing low-sugar, low-fat or low-salt claims had a worse nutritional profile than those without claims," said lead investigator Lindsey Smith Taillie from the University Of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in the US.
"In fact, in some cases, products that tend to be high in calories, sodium, sugar or fat may be more likely to have low- or no-content claims," Taillie added. Essentially, reduced claims are confusing because they are relative and only about one nutrient, said Taillie. A low-fat brownie could have three grams of fat per 40 grams, whereas a low-fat cheesecake would have to have three grams of fat per 125 grams.
So, if a consumer were trying to find a lower-fat option for a dessert, the low-fat brownie would have relatively higher fat than the low-fat cheesecake, the study added. The data included more than 80 million food and beverage purchased from more than 40,000 households from 2008 to 2012. The study also found that there was also a connection between the socio-economic status and food purchases and the high-and middle-income level households were more likely to purchase food and beverages with low-content claims.