Et tu, Walmart? “Fat Free” rarely equals healthier

The multi-billion dollar ‘diet’ industry can be pretty deceptive, but if we pay attention, we can see through them.

Let’s make sure we start with science so that we are on the same footing:

  • Sugar is not bad for us, nor addictive. Unless you are T1 or T2 diabetic, in which case you should be used to monitoring sugar intake and blood glucose levels
  • Fat is not bad for us, there are even some fats required for healthy living, and fat is required to process certain vitamins and minerals.

So we are on the same page now, right? Good.

For many years, the ‘diet industry’ tried to convince consumers that ‘eating fat makes you fat’, completely bypassing the laws of thermodynamics and CiCo (calories in, calories out). Fast forward a decade or two and now the same ‘diet industry’ is telling us that sugar is addictive and carbs make us fat (still ignoring thermodynamics and CiCo). Even with the change to a new fad, the fat-free products still persist and are highly sneaky.

Look at these two Great Value by Walmart greek yogurt labels:

Both are the strawberry flavored variety. Looking solely at the front, one would be led to thing that the ‘Lite’ version still had some fat in it, while the ‘Fat Free’ version was healthier. When we flip the package around, what do we find? The ‘Lite’ version is also fat free, with a much lower sugar content, while the ‘Fat Free’ version has loads of added sugars. Remember above when we said sugar isn’t bad? It still isn’t, however added sugars do nothing but add to the calorie count without adding any significant health value (ie nutrients). In addition, the added sugars can pose a problem for T2 diabetics who may not be monitoring their condition as closely as they should, and for those who are pre-diabetic and still susceptible to higher than normal blood glucose levels.

Of course, if you enjoy the flavor of the added sugar version, or if you need the extra boost of calories to match your energy output and goals, it is still greek yogurt and an excellent choice.

The take-away: As consumers, we must be vigilant and be sure that products are what they claim to be. The ‘diet industry’ spends countless hours on marketing and behavioral economics to learn how to misdirect the public at times. Make sure the foods you buy support your goals, and don’t just claim to.

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