For years nutritionists, government agencies and the media have told us to reduce fat consumption and that eating low-fat and fat-free foods is key to weight loss and prevention of many diseases.
The food industry went along and produced thousands of low-fat or fat-free alternatives to foods we love to eat. The supermarket shelves became packed with products that are low or fat free many of which are labeled as “Heart Healthy” or “Healthy”
We have turned into increasingly health conscious and we took these recommendations seriously. As a result fat consumption in North America has been significantly reduced.
Yet despite the fact that we consume much less fat, obesity and overweight have reached epidemic proportions worldwide, with Americans leading the way. American people, including children, are the fattest people of the world.
A significant reduction of our fat consumption and at the same time a significant increase in our obesity and overweight statistics is paradoxical. How can this be?
There is growing concern among healthcare workers that the heavily favored artificially produced low-fat and no-fat foods have become one of the major contributing factors to the obesity among Americans.
Why Would Low-Fat Or Fat-Free Foods Contribute To Obesity
Most people commonly assume that less dietary fat in otherwise identical foods implies fewer calories. What a typical consumer might not realize is that in order to reduce fat in a food product, the food needs to be altered to produce a taste and a consistency equivalent to that of the natural food.
The fat component in these altered foods has often been replaced with carbohydrate additives. As a result, the calorie equivalents for the natural versus altered product often do not differ by much. Some fat-free or low fat versions of the food have even more calories than the original, “fat-full” food item. The worst example I found recently was the case of a brand name yogurt. The fat-free version had in fact more calories than the natural version of the yogurt.
The problem is that the low or fat-free foods often flaunt some kind of health friendly designation. This gives the consumers a feeling of reassurance that if the food is beneficial for their health it is acceptable to eat larger quantities of it. And, this is where the problem lies.
Without a careful examination of the product ingredients, people may not be aware of the caloric consequences of the substitutions to make the fat-free or low-fat product taste good.
So the bottom line is that you need to be extra careful when shopping for low fat or fat free foods and always check and compare the food labels. Never assume that just because something is labelled as low-fat, fat-free or heart healthy it is low in calories.
This article is meant to give you a bit of a food for thought. Fat-free and low-fat foods are often not a good choice for weight loss. The article emphasizes the necessity to read food labels when shopping for food and not to naively believe that the “Healthy” or “Heart-Healthy” designs on food labels really mean healthy and calorie reduced foods.
It is quite likely that the carbohydrate “fillers” in the modified/altered fat free or low fat foods are the culprits causing the paradoxical phenomenon that despite the significant reduction of fat intake there is a growing increase in obesity and overweight within our population.
But fats are important for us. Without fats our bodies cannot function properly. However, too much fat is not good for our health and bodies either. Reduce your fat intake but stay away from artificially produced low-fat or fat-free foods. If you are trying to lose weight, these foods may stand in your way.