The food industry loves to play tricks on consumers. These tricks come in many forms. (Have you ever seen “naturally a fat-free food” on a box of candy?) While this statement may be true, it is common sense that your box of movie theater candy is not the healthiest option. However, other more insidious labels are used on everything from cereals to meat. Labels proclaim “contains whole grains”, “gluten-free”, and “no trans-fat”, just to name a few. Proclaiming that every food has a potential health benefit can leave consumers bewildered.
As a student of nutrition science, I’m all too aware of these marketing ploys. Last week I gave a presentation on methods for losing belly fat. I specifically focused on the importance of recognizing the many names for sugar, as well as avoiding artificial sweeteners. (While most of us recognize brand names like Equal and Nutrasweet, there are many generic names consumed without notice).
As always, my audience was amazed at the number of names used to denote sugar. Feeling proud that I had spread this knowledge, I went home and decided to treat myself to a small glass of “healthy” chocolate milk that I purchased. I examined the label and FINALLY noticed that it contained two forms of artificial sweetener: acesulfame potassium and sucralose!
This was a reality check. The food corporations had tricked me. ME! Not only did this discovery knock me off my high horse, but it led me to do a bit of investigating. The brand is called FairLife. After a bit of research, I discovered that this is Coca-Cola’s first foray into the dairy business.1 (Coca-Cola! I had been duped by a soda corporation! I haven’t drunk soda in years!)
As you can see, even a health and fitness professional can be duped by advertising. The proclamation of “50% more protein, 50% less sugar” on this “ultra-filtered” milk led me to throw it in my cart with only a fleeting glance at the label. (After all, it looks healthy, right?) I got a lesson in humility and an important nutrition anecdote: don’t rely on advertising. Examine the nutrition facts and ingredient list. We’re all susceptible to the food industry’s trickery.
1. Engel M. Nutrition experts slam Coca-Cola’s new milk, Fairlife. New York Daily News. http://www.nydailynews.com/life-style/health/nutrition-experts-slam-coca-cola-new-milk-fairlife-article-1.2111077. Published February 11, 2015.