There’s one popular myth that captures the minds of those who are watching their calories. The myth states that 95 percent fat-free means that only five percent of the calories then come from fat. Read on to see whether it’s true or a misrepresentation.
Origins of This Weight Loss Myth
The unfortunate thing about the advertising industry is that it often focuses on how to get companies cold hard cash. It’s unfortunate, but this means that anytime we see an advertisement of any kind, even if it really does seem to be against the issuing company’s bottom line, you must take it with a grain of salt. When you see food manufacturers claiming that a product is low in fat, you can rest assured that their interests are not in providing you with a low fat product, but in selling whatever they can get away with selling you. As a case in point, consider how milk is usually marketed. How often have you walked down the milk aisle in your local supermarket and thought that the 2% fat milk carton you’re purchasing is actually 2% fat? Because, believe it or not, it isn’t.
This Calorie Myth Debunked
Whenever any product-whether it is milk, lunchmeat, or any other multiple-ingredient food product-has a packaging that boldly states it is 95% (or any other percent) fat free, then it is exceedingly likely that what they mean is that it is only 5% fat as measure of weight. The problem with this is that weight is irrelevant when measuring fat content. What counts is the percentage of calories that come from fat. If something says it is 95% fat free, it does NOT mean it only 5% of the calories come from fat. In the case of a fairly popular Healthy Choice lunchmeat that claims it is 97% fat-free, the real truth is that over 25% of its calories come from fat. Two percent milk is actually 31% fat; whole milk is 49% fat. Cheese is generally 70% fat.
Technical Truths about Calories
Companies get away with these packaging shenanigans because, technically at least, they’re not lying. That 2% milk really is only 2% fat content by weight, even if it has 63% as much fat as whole milk, and has 31% of its calories coming from fat. Since they’re not lying, exactly, but are rather just misleading, they get a free ride from the governmental agencies that prefer to spend their time prosecuting outright packaging lies.
UCLA Nutrition Myths (www.dining.ucla.edu/housing_site/dining/…/NutritionMyths.pdf)
Daily Mail: Misleading Food Content (www.dailymail.co.uk/…/How-food-labels-mislead-shoppers-fat-content.html)