(ABC NEWS) — Low-fat, low-sugar, high-fiber – a food label’s job is to say “Choose me!”
But who buys into these labels and are these products actually healthier?
In a study evaluating over 80 million food and beverage purchases from 40,000 U.S. households, researchers at UNC Chapel Hill looked at products with those nutritional claims.
They found that, overall, 13 percent of food and 35 percent of beverages had low-content claims.
And low-fat claims dominated both categories.
More interesting is that products with claims did not necessarily come with better nutrition, along with the label, just less fat or less sugar, but sometimes more of something else.
Regarding the shoppers, it seems that non-Hispanic whites bought more foods that made these kinds of claims. Especially low-fat beverages, like low-fat milk.
Middle and high income shoppers were more likely to purchase low content items, again with low-fat claims leading the pack.
So next time you reach for a low-content food in the grocery isle, just be wary.
It seems that low content claims might hold ‘low’ nutritional meaning.