We are confronted with a bewildering array of packaged foods that offer convenience and economy and make additional claims of being healthy and good for you.
They claim to be “healthy” or “free from” certain ingredients that we consider bad for health. Yet how many of these claims are accurate?
Misleading food labels
Fat free, gluten free, diet, organic and trans-fat free are just some of the claims made on food product packaging that we routinely see. Some of these claims could be misleading or downright inaccurate. And if an ingredient is removed, it is likely replaced by a substitute that may itself be unhealthy for us!
For instance, items that make claims of being fat free typically use a fat substitute. This could interfere with the body’s ability to regulate food intake.
Experts think that this could actually cause weight gain in the long term. Gluten free products may actually contain more fat than other products.
A study conducted showed that those who drank diet sodas were actually more prone to having bigger waist sizes in the long run. It is thought that those who drink diet have a “save here, splurge there mentality” that could be responsible here.
We also get caught up in the perception that “organic” is better for us, even believing that it tastes better! Products labeled trans-fat free may actually list hydrogenated or partly hydrogenated fats in their list of ingredients. So product labels can be misleading indeed!
Other health buzz words you should beware of
Product manufacturers also routinely add other terminology to food packaging to lure customers into thinking that their product is better than other. Terms such as “no added preservatives”, “no artificial colors or flavors”, “clinically proven” or “scientifically verified” also are routinely used. These are clever marketing strategies that make us feel we are making a healthy food choice for our families and ourselves.
Yet “preservative free” could still contain nitrates and “scientifically proven” could be a randomly used term unsupported by any real studies.
Then some food products could actually be made using “no artificial colors or flavors”, but they may have very high fat or sugar content.
Claims of “whole grain” may be emblazoned over the package, but if you read the ingredient list, it will reveal that whole grains may be 5 or 10% of the product!
The problem with all of this clever and slick marketing is that we tend to consume more of a food thinking that it is not harmful for us.