Consumer watchdog Which? researched a number of products labelled as ‘low fat’, ‘reduced fat’ and ‘light’ and found that these products often contained similar amounts of calories as standard products.
To provide context on the consequences, Which? surveyed over 1,000 UK residents and found that 60% of consumers trusted labels such as ‘low fat’, ‘reduced fat’ and ‘light’ to mean the product is a healthier food choice.
People with diabetes are advised by the NHS to look for low fat foods, yet frequently, the calorie content in ‘low fat’ or ‘light’ foods are not significantly lower than in standard products which don’t bear these labels.
Which? picked out 12 products from well known food brands. The more misleading claims related to sugary products. McVitie’s Lights milk chocolate digestives which contained over 90% of the calories of a standard McVitie’s chocolate digestive and included just as much sugar.
Which? points out that foods containing less than 3% fat are able to use the term ‘low fat’ regardless of the overall calorie content. Food labelled as ‘reduced fat’ or ‘light’ need to have 30% less fat than a standard version of the product but can include more sugar or carbohydrate and needn’t necessarily be lower in calories.
Which?’s research raises questions about the effectiveness about the regulations concerning what we tend to view as health labels, such as ‘light’. Which? advises consumers to read nutritional labels carefully and the advice is important for people with diabetes that will wish to avoid products that contain relatively high quantities of sugar.

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