Thursday, 20 September 2012 10:20 AM
‘Low fat’ and ‘lighter’ food products may not be a healthy alternative to their standard version, reveals new research.
The study commissioned by Which? revealed that six in 10 consumers eat low fat and lighter labelled foods thinking that they are a healthier alternative.
Products labelled ‘low-fat’ and ‘lighter’ only have to contain 30 per cent less fat than the standard version, yet only sixteen per cent of people surveyed understood this difference.
When researchers compared the low fat offering to the standard version of similar foods, they often had similar calorie contents and the supposedly healthier option often contained more sugar.
The study revealed that one standard McVitie’s chocolate digestive contains 85 calories; a light one has 77. The difference of just eight calories can be burned off in less than a minute of swimming or running.
When comparing brands, a Tesco low-fat yogurt had more calories per pot – 130 – than an Activia standard yogurt which only has 123 calories. The Tesco yogurt also contained more sugar – 20.2g, which equates to four teaspoons per pot, than Activia’s 16.9g.
Which? executive director Richard Lloyd, said: “Consumers are choosing ‘low-fat’ and ‘light options’ believing them to be a healthier choice, but our research has found that in many cases they’re just not living up to their healthy image. Our advice to consumers is to read the nutritional labels carefully.”
Which? has been campaigning for the supermarkets to add clearer labelling to packaging so consumers can make an informed choice about what they eat. Morrisons and Iceland, the two remaining supermarkets yet to adopt the traffic light labelling system, are being asked to apply the traffic light system to their food as soon as possible.
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