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Low fat illusions

Last Updated: 17 January 2019








Low fat illusions

Be wary of low-fat labels on food items. Not only do these low-fat items often contain increased amounts of sugar and salt to compensate for the low fat, but people also tend to consume larger amounts of low-fat foods.

Low-fat labels tend to lure people into a false sense of security making them think what they are consuming is really healthy. Research has found that those eating low-fat food consumed an average of 28% more total calories than those eating the regular alternatives. Why is this so?


Dr Pierre Chandon (The European Institute of Business Education) stated that “people believe they will feel less guilty eating the low-fat foods, so they tend to overindulge… Fat is often replaced with sugar.”


Basically, fat provides a lot of flavour and makes you full more quickly. When the fat is lowered or removed from a food product, flavour and substance is taken away with it. The new flavour is often unappealing to consumers. To overcome this, sugar and/or salt is used as a replacement. This can have significant implications on a healthy diet if you’re not careful. The increased sugar content increases the calories in addition to spiking blood glucose levels. When blood glucose levels dip back down, your brain gets the signal that it’s time to eat again. Increased salt content influences your blood pressure and heart health. Salt also increases your appetite often resulting in over-doing it. So when you feel like you’ve made a healthy choice by selecting a low fat option, it may not be the case.


Sometimes full fat products are a better option than low fat alternatives, depending on your healthy eating goals. When choosing full fat products, be wary of the saturated fat content. This type of fat can have negative effects on cholesterol, blood pressure and heart health. In saying that, not all low fat products are misleading and should be avoided. It is important to read nutrition labels to know exactly what you are eating. Don’t rely on appealing health claims on the front of food packaging. Turn the pack over and take a look at the nutrition information. For a quick guide use the below table to help you choose wisely:














Saturated Fat     




Written by Dr. Noel Duncan 



Weight loss
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