Mike the Psych's Blog

What if psychologists ruled the world? In real life?


Lite meals my a**e

I’ve always resisted buying low fat foods or “lite meals” because I objected to paying the same, or more in some cases, for less content than was found in a normal meal. And because they reduced the amount of salt, sugar and fat – which is a good thing  – they often tasted bland.

Seems I was wrong. According to the Sunday Times many of these so-called “light foods” actually contain more calories than the regular version and some contain more fat or saturated fat.

There are lots of examples including Walkers crisps, and Benecol drinks, where the light versions have more calories, and McVitie’s light Rich Tea Biscuits which have more calories than supermarket own brands.

A senior food researcher at Which? said; “a food which says it is light does not mean it is low in fat. sugar, or salt. The same products from other manufacturers may even contain less….” .

Under EU rules the word light can only be used where there is a 30% reduction in calories, fat, sugar or salt. Manufacturers get round it by comparing with their own products not similar foods from competitors. And even when they do reduce the fat by 30% it can still be at what is considered a high level eg Philadelphia Light cream cheese has high levels of saturated fat.

Pepsico, which makes Walkers crisps, says that Walkers Lights contain fewer calories and saturated fat per bag than regular crisps and the bags are labelled with nutritional information. The ST story says that  Walkers standard extra crunchy cheddar & sour cream crisps contains fewer calories but marginally more fat than Walkers Lights. Decide for yourself who to believe.

Clearly these light meals are intended to appeal to health conscious people or to help people on diets. Fat chance of these really helping!

See also: “Mums a girl’s best friend – unless she’s dieting”  and “Apples & Pears – what fruit is your bum?”