Low Fat Foods Promote Obesity
Tuesday, April 15th 2003
An article from GP Weekly in Australia.
Foods marketed as "low fat" promote overweight and obesity because the reduced fat content is replaced by high levels of carbohydrates, nutrition experts say. Consumers were being misled by the low fat labelling, perceiving them to be "guilt free" foods that could be eaten in greater quantities without weight gain, they told congress. But new research showed low-fat versions of food such as mayonnaise and potato chips were still relatively high in carbohydrates and low in water content. "A high consumption of manufactured low-fat products may increase the energy density of the diet and promote Weight gain", said Helen La Fontaine, of Physical Activity and Nutrition unit at Deakin University in Melbourne.
The findings might explain the "American paradox", in which rising levels of obesity were occurring at a time when the US population was consuming more low-fat products and reducing the fat content of their diet, she said. "Food claims, food labelling and nutritional signposts (such as the Heart foundations Tick program) may need to be modified to account for these findings, such as only allocating a low-fat claim when the energy density is also low", she said.
Nutritionist Rosemary Stanton agreed with the conclusions, saying there was clear evidence people consumed more of a product if it was labelled as low fat. But it was important to differentiate between natural foods that were already low in fat and processed products that had their fat content reduced and replaced with other high kilojoule components, she said.
A spokeswomen for the Heart foundation said it was reviewing the criteria for its tick program to take into account factors such as energy density.
Written by Michael Woodhead.
Footnote from Ideal Health:
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