Why Fat-Free Doesn't Necessarily Mean Eat Me
Grocery stores and supermarkets all over the world are smart enough to realise one thing: the term ‘fat free’ sells to women. Faced with countless images of waif thin models lining magazine covers, catwalks and the big screen, the pressure to look slim has never been greater. So when we search the shelves of our local store and see the words ‘fat-free’ or ‘low-fat,’ even though the price tag is usually higher, we often feel compelled to buy.
So will fat free foods help you to lose weight?
It seems logical doesn’t it? But if you thought that eating fat free foods would help you lose weight or prevent you from putting more weight on, you’d be wrong. As fat-free foods entered the market place in America, Australia and the UK, the population actually put on weight. Why? Because when manufacturers reduced the fat in products like biscuits and yoghurts, they had to fill them with something else and that something was normally sugar. Professor Kerin O’Dea, director of the Sansom Institute for Health Research at the University of South Australia, has indicated that many food manufacturers were increasing the amounts of fructose (sugary corn syrup) in their products to make them taste better. This could give reason for alarm because fructose is not only high in calories there is growing evidence that it may be addictive. Professor Kerin informs us that many of these low fat products, most notably the 99% fat free, are loaded with calories and sugar.
Marshmallows have been labelled as 99% fat-free, but they are also 80% sugar and could not possibly be considered as a healthy addition to anyone’s diet and should not be labelled as such. Labels are often false, which is why you should cook at home, including a recipe like a lentil soup .
You can find fructose in many low fat products such as yogurts, breakfast cereals, biscuits, cereal bars, juice, diet cordials, salad dressings and ‘lite’ versions of products such as butter. The trouble with eating too much fructose is the fact that it does not encourage the body to release insulin or leptin and these are the hormones that suppress appetite and tell the body that it is full. Once fructose has passed through the human liver, it is usually converted straight into fat, providing the person consuming it is reasonably well-nourished. So all these fat-free products are doing in essence, is making us hungry, which in turn enables us to consume more food. That should make most manufacturers very happy.
Fat Versus Sugar
Professor Shea continues by saying that people would be better off eating a full-fat plain yogurt rather than its low fat counterpart. Some low fat yogurts contain up to 116 more kilojoules per 100g than their full-fat partners and as much as an additional 10 grams of sugar. It’s a fact that sugar alone converts to body-fat faster than eating just fat alone.
What is worrying is the fact that because consumers think these products are low-fat, they assume they can eat twice as much of them. This simply isn’t the case. In some instances the reverse is true! This doesn’t mean that all low-fat or fat-free products are bad for us. Some products on the market will help us to cut down our calories and reduced unhealthy saturated fats in our diets, such as switching from full fat to semi-skimmed milk.
What consumers need to be aware of are products which have high amounts of hydrolysed corn starch, corn syrup, fructose or sucrose in them. If you find this ingredient on the tin, you may well be advised to find the full-fat version.