Let’s talk about chocolate and muffins and chips and frozen yogurt and peanut butter! Hungry? Already have your jacket on and are on your way to the nearest supermarket? Let’s imagine you’re already there. So many brands, so much to look at, so much to think about … It’s overwhelming. How do you choose? Will an image on the packaging catch your attention? Its shape or color? Perhaps the words FAT FREE or LOW FAT screaming out at you have gotten your attention.
Brands are constantly introducing fat-free or low-fat versions of their products. And people are constantly seeking out these fat-free or low-fat versions in an attempt to stay healthy, lose weight, become satisfied with fewer calories, and/or indulge without the guilt. I’m sure you’ve done it at some point in your life: “Oh, I’ll have five cookies today––it’s OK, they’re fat-free,” or “Let me add another spoonful of peanut butter––it’s reduced-fat after all.” Have you ever thought about all the extra stuff that gets added to a low-fat product to make it as tasty as the regular version, whether it’s more sugar, artificial sweeteners, or just pure chemicals? Not everyone thinks beyond “fat-free.”
Reduced-fat peanut butter has 187 calories, while the regular version has 191 calories. A difference of four full calories. Wow! There were times I’d eat three muffins (see photo) for breakfast because they were “fat-free” or finish the whole Häagen-Dazs quart in one sitting because––again––it was labeled low-fat! When love handles appeared out of nowhere, I realized that I’d never paid attention to the nutritional information––or even the ingredients––listed on the packaging. I then understood what had happened: marketers had tried to sell the product to me, and they had succeeded. But they had also fooled me and made me fat!
Marketers, don’t mislead your consumers! Who agrees with me?
Author: Marina Kaljaj