There is no decency to the way the junk food companies do their marketing.
By Kris Gunnars, BSc
All they care about is profit and they seem willing to sacrifice even childrens’ health for their own monetary gain.
Here are the top 11 biggest lies of the food industry.
1. Low-Fat or Fat-Free
One of the side effects of the “war” on fat was a plethora of processed products with reduced amounts of fat.
These products typically have labels saying “low-fat” – “reduced fat” or “fat-free”
The problem is that these products are not healthy at all.
Foods that have had the fat removed from them taste like cardboard, no one would want to eat them.
For this reason, these foods are usually loaded with sugar, artificial sweeteners or other unnatural chemicals.
We now know that fat is harmless and sugar is bad. What this means is that the “low-fat” foods are usually much, much worse than their “regular” counterparts.
Bottom Line: If a product has the words “low-fat” or anything similar on the label, then it’s probably bad for you.
2.Trans Fat Free
Processed foods often have “trans fat free” on the label.
This doesn’t necessarily have to be true.
As long as a product contains less than 0.5 grams of trans fat per serving, they are allowed to put this on the label.
Make sure to check the ingredients list… if the word “hydrogenated” appears anywhere on the label, then it contains trans fats.
It’s actually not uncommon to find hydrogenated fats in products that are labelled trans fat free.
But even if a processed food truly contains no trans fats, it may still contain vegetable oils like corn and soybean oil, which can also be very harmful.
Bottom Line: Avoid everything that contains the word “hydrogenated” or any type of high-Omega-6 vegetable oil on the ingredients list.
3. Includes Whole Grains
In the past few decades, we’ve been led to believe that whole grains are among the healthiest foods we can eat.
I agree 100% that whole grains are better than refined grains, although there is no evidence that eating whole grains is healthier than no grains at all.
That being said, processed foods like cereals are often claimed to include whole grains.
The problem with this is that whole grains aren’t always whole. The grains have been pulverized into very fine flour.
They may contain all the ingredients from the grain, but the resistance to quick digestion is lost and these grains can spike blood sugars just as fast as their refined counterparts.
Plus, even if a product has small amounts of whole grains in it, chances are that it contains a ton of other very harmful ingredients like sugar and high fructose corn syrup.
Bottom Line: Most whole grains today aren’t “whole” – they’ve been pulverized into very fine flour and spike blood sugar just as fast as their refined counterparts.
4. Gluten Free
Eating a gluten-free diet is very trendy these days.
One report says that almost a third of Americans are currently eating gluten-free or actively trying to restrict gluten.
Just so we’re clear, I fully support a gluten-free diet. There is evidence that a significant proportion of the population may be sensitive to gluten, not just those with full-blown celiac disease.
However, products labelled as “gluten-free” made to replace gluten containing foods are not healthy.
These foods are usually made from highly refined, high glycemic starches like corn starch, potato starch, tapioca starch, etc. and may also be loaded with sugar.
Eating gluten-free should be about ditching the bread and the crap and replacing it with real foods.
Bottom Line: So-called “gluten free” products are often loaded with unhealthy ingredients. Avoid them and eat real food instead.
5. Not That Much Sugar
Unfortunately, most people don’t even read ingredients lists before making a purchase.
But even for those who do, food manufacturers still have ways of disguising the true contents of their products.
On ingredients lists, the ingredient that is most of is listed first. The one that is second most of is second, etc.
If you see sugar in the first few spots, then you know that the product is loaded with sugar.
However, food manufacturers often put different “types” of sugar in their products. A food may contain “sugar,” “high fructose corn syrup” and “evaporated cane juice” – all different names for the exact same thing… sugar.
This way, they can have some other healthier sounding ingredient number one on the list, but if you were to add the amounts of these three different types of sugar, sugar would be at the top.
This is a clever way to mask the true amount of refined sugar in processed foods.
Bottom Line: Make sure to check whether a product contains more than one type of sugar, in that case the sugar may really be among the top ingredients.
6. Calories Per Serving
The real calorie and sugar content of products is often hidden by saying that the product is more than one serving.
For example, a chocolate bar or a coke bottle that is two servings.
Most people don’t stop when they’ve finished half, they drink the entire bottle and eat the entire candy bar.
However, food manufacturer can use this to its advantage and say that their products contains only so-so many calories per serving.
When reading labels, check the number of servings the product contains. If it contains 2 servings and there’s 200 calories per serving, then the entire thing is 400 calories.
For example, this 24oz bottle of coke. It says it has 100 calories and 27 grams of sugar per serving, but that entire bottle contains 3 servings… which makes the total 300 calories, with 81 grams of sugar.
I don’t know about you, but back in my coke drinking days I could easily down 24 ounces (or more) in a sitting.
Bottom Line: Make sure to check the number of servings on a label. Multiply the total sugar and calorie content by the number of servings to find the total amount in the container.
Many processed foods have a flavor that sounds natural.
For example, Orange-flavored Vitamin Water tastes like oranges.
However, there are no actual oranges in there.
The sweet taste is coming from sugar and the orange flavor is coming from highly refined chemicals that stimulate the same taste sensors in the mouth as oranges.
Just because a product has the flavor of real food, doesn’t mean that that any of it it is actually in there. Blueberry, strawberry, orange, etc… these are often just chemicals designed to taste like the real thing.
Bottom Line: Just because a product has the taste of some natural food, does not mean that there is even the slightest hint of that food in the product.
8. Small Amounts of Healthy This and That
Often, processed products are purported to include small amounts of ingredients that are commonly considered healthy.
This is purely a marketing trick, usually the amounts of these nutrients are negligible and do nothing to make up for the harmful effects of the other ingredients.
This way, the clever marketers can fool parents into thinking they’re making healthy choices for themselves and their children.
Some examples of ingredients often added in tiny amounts and then displayed prominently on the packaging are Omega-3s, Antioxidants and Whole Grains.
Bottom Line: Food manufacturers often put small amounts of healthy ingredients in their products to fool people into thinking that the products are healthy.
9. Calling Harmful Ingredients Something Else
Many people claim to have adverse reactions to certain food ingredients and choose to avoid them.
However, the food manufacturers often hide these controversial ingredients by referring to them with technical names that people don’t know.
For example, in Europe MSG (monosodium glutamate) may be called E621 and Carrageenan may be called E407.
The same can be said for many types of sugar… such as “evaporated cane juice” – sounds natural, but it’s really just sugar.
Bottom Line: Food manufacturers often hide the fact that their products contain controversial ingredients by calling them something else.
10. Low Carb Junk Foods
Low-carb diets have been pretty popular for the past few decades.
Food manufacturers have caught up on the trend and started offered a variety of low-carb products.
The problem with these foods is the same as with the “low-fat” foods… they’re not at all healthy.
These are usually processed junk foods with very harmful ingredients.
Look at the ingredients list for products like Atkins low-carb bars. This isn’t food!
There are also examples of low-carb breads and other replacement products that contain much more carbs than the label claims.
Bottom Line: “Low carb” products are often highly processed and made with very unhealthy ingredients.
11. Zero Calorie Beverages
Beverage manufacturers offer zero calorie drinks as healthy alternatives for people who want to lose weight.
These products are often marketed as if they actually work.
However, these drinks are usually sweetened with artificial sweeteners instead of sugar.
Research generally does NOT support the idea that replacing sugar-sweetened beverages with artificially sweetened beverages actually leads to weight loss.
The relationship between artificial sweeteners and weight is complex, but these sweeteners can subconsciously affect food intake and make people eat more.
Take Home Message
Of course, it is best to just avoid processed foods altogether and eat real foods instead, that way you don’t have to worry about labels and ingredients lists.
Real food doesn’t even need an ingredients list… real food IS the ingredient.
A special thanks to Authority Nutrition for sharing this article with UnitedVoice readers.