With obesity on the increase across the UK, consumers are often told that staying fit and maintaining a healthy weight is as simple as eating less and moving more.
However, this isn’t always the case; with reams of health information available, it can sometimes be confusing. Purchasing products with ‘diet’ or ‘low fat’ written across them can seem like a failsafe option, but unfortunately this isn’t always true.
Back in the 1980’s manufacturers responded to research suggesting that high fat foods such as butter, red meats and cream increased cholesterol leading to health problems such as heart disease. However, a recent investigation by The Telegraph has found that many low fat foods, which are marketed as healthy, contained more sugar than the full-fat equivalent.
There is no denying that fat has more than twice the number of calories per gram than carbohydrates. However, as consumers got to grips with this unsavoury fact, the food industry got to work replacing animal fats with unsaturated vegetable oils know as hydrogenation fats or trans-fats.
Unfortunately, we now know these hydrogenated fats and trans-fats are both bad for the heart and our cholesterol. Although trans-fats can be found at low levels in some natural foods, man-made versions are often added to the manufacturing process which mean consumers are likely to be eating more of them.
Food manufacturers soon found that removing the natural oils from products and replacing them with hydro fats to create a low fat version, meant the flavour also suffered. This then led to an increase in sugar used, so consumers could continue to enjoy the taste and texture.
All of this meant that the typical low-fat product tended to be high in carbs, was likely to contain trans-fats and at the end of the day had a very similar calorie count to the original product, questioning the product’s health claims
These changing views in nutrition are making dairy and other products one the greatest food comeback stories in history. It has now been deemed that the recommendation made back in 1983 to cut dairy products in favour of low-fat alternatives was ‘premature’ and lacked any solid scientific evidence.
As a dairy manufacturer we’re thrilled to see that the advice has now been overturned and consumers are not only welcoming natural dairy back into their diets but food manufacturers are also welcoming the return of the tasty and versatile ingredient as part of a balanced diet.