If you think that switching to low-fat food alternatives will fix your weight problem, think again. All that low-fat food has done is lull us into believing that we can eat more of it, according to a new Cornell University study.
The Cornell study zealously traced every calorie that we consume in theatres, holiday receptions and in the home; and what they found was that people eat 28 percent more food (up to 45 percent more for the obese) when they know that what they are consuming is low-fat. "People don't realize that low-fat foods are not always low-calorie foods," lamented lead researcher Brian Wansink.
Identifying and eating low-fat foods may provide some reassurance, but in reality, fat is often substituted with increased levels of sugar. This means that consumers believe that a low-fat alternative has up to 40 percent fewer calories than regular brands, when the actual figure is more likely to be only around 11 percent, say the researchers.
The study also showed that a person's perception of what they thought amounted to a regular portion of food was often skewed when faced with low-fat alternatives. "People believe they will feel less guilty eating the low-fat foods, so they tend to overindulge, said study co-author, Pierre Chandon.
Additionally, the study subjects would eat foods they didn't normally like as long as they were labeled "low-fat." For this reason, and the fact that people tend to overindulge when eating low-fat foods, Wansink suggests a far more practical tactic for the weight-conscious. "Stick with the regular version, but eat a little bit less. It's better for both your diet and your taste buds."
Source: Cornell University Food Lab