‘Low Fat’, ‘Gluten Free’, ‘Heart Healthy’ – Watch Out For Dastardly Food Labels

Walk around any supermarket and you’ll see these types of labels featuring on all kinds of products, but it is important to realise that often these labels are just a marketing con.

‘Low fat’ often means high sugar, ‘gluten free’ is often irrelevant, and ‘heart healthy’ is a claim often resting on the flimsiest of scientific evidence or largely commercial considerations.

As ever, the concept of ‘Buyer Beware’ applies, as this story from cardiologist Aseem Malhotra shows:

‘Navigating our way through the oversupply of cheap, processed foods blitzed by aggressive marketing for junk food by an industry whose ‘low fat’, ‘gluten free’ or ‘heart healthy’ health claims are more likely to damage your health is not easy.

Take, for instance, a patient of mine in her 40’s, who, after suffering a heart attack primarily brought on by years of heavy smoking, couldn’t understand why she’d gained three stone in weight after adopting a ‘low fat’ diet.

She was horrified when I pointed out that the five low fat milk drinks she was getting through daily contained a total of seventy five teaspoons of sugar. I now tell my patients to avoid buying anything that’s marketed as ‘healthy’, as it’s likely to have the opposite effect on your health.’

Aseem Malhotra, 2017, The Pioppi Diet, p 19.


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