When the label says 'low fat,' calories can pile up, study says

Dec 11, 2006

People -- especially overweight people -- consume up to 50 percent more calories when they eat low-fat versions of snack foods than when they eat the regular versions, according to a new Cornell study.

Further, a companion study finds, when food labels show serving sizes on such packaged low-fat snacks as granola or chocolates, normal-weight people tend not to overeat them while overweight people do.

"This is a world of fat-free, carb-free and sugar-free products," said Brian Wansink, the John S. Dyson Professor of Marketing and of Applied Economics at Cornell. In fact, many low-fat-labeled foods have only about 30 percent fewer calories than their regular counterparts. "Often, the fat-free version is not much lower calorie than the regular version," Wansink said. "Low-fat labels trick people into eating more than regular labels. But the cruel twist is that these labels have an even more dramatic impact on those who are overweight. They are at danger for really overindulging when they see something with a low-fat label. If we are looking for an excuse to eat, low-fat labels give it to us."

He recommends that low-fat-labeled foods post larger, more realistic serving sizes, which might deter people from eating too much by giving them a more accurate calorie count.

Source: Cornell University News Service

Explore further: US health officials perplexed by vaccination skeptics

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

IOC defends Rio legacy amid green protests

17 hours ago

Ecological protests on Saturday dogged the final day of an International Olympic Committee executive board meeting in Rio as green campaigners slated the choice of a nature reserve to hold the golf event ...

Recommended for you

US health officials perplexed by vaccination skeptics

6 hours ago

Public health officials in the U.S. are exasperated by their inability to persuade more parents to vaccinate their children, saying they're dealing with a small minority who are misinformed—or merely obstinate—about ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.