Marketing Mixed Nutrition Messages
It’s been said that the best things in life are free, but this doesn’t mean the marketing geniuses out there aren’t using that as a gimmick to sell their products.
Remember the whole fat-free craze? In the 1990s, law-makers labeled fat as the villain behind a spike in heart disease.
The result was the birth of a whole industry of fat-free goodies.
During their height in popularity, surveys show that 76 percent of people chose fat-free alternatives.
I bought into the idea, too. Fat-free frozen yogurt, fat-free cookies — you name it, they made it. Sounded great (better than it tasted), but they took out the fat and added a lot of sugar. The same people who went fat-free also increased their carbohydrate intake.
Remember the whole fat-free craze? In the 1990s, lawmakers labeled fat as the villain behind a spike in heart disease. The result was the birth of a whole industry of fat-free goodies.
Unfortunately, Americans translated the conventional wisdom at the time to mean “Fat is bad; carbs are good.”
In other words, they thought things like pretzels were good, while nuts were bad.
Boy, did they get it wrong. Frozen yogurt is a perfect example. Say you choose fat-free vanilla frozen yogurt. The calories are nearly the same as vanilla ice cream, but you’re getting the calories from sugar instead of fat.
No surprise, the increase in sugar had side effects. I won’t get into all the data, but obesity and diabetes spiked in the United States after everyone fell for fat-free mania.
That spawned another nutrition trend: sugar-free substitutes.
Yes, once research showed that it wasn’t necessarily the fat that was making us fat, sugar became the new enemy.
The food industry rolled out all types of sugar substitutes and artificial sweeteners. Again, it seemed like an easy way to cut down on calories in sweetened food and drinks.
I initially fell for this one, too. This craze was in full swing when I was pregnant with both of my children and I had to avoid sugar spikes because of gestational diabetes. I have a sweet tooth, so I thought it would satisfy certain cravings without any health consequences to myself or my children. Well, come to find out that’s not necessarily the case. I experienced headaches and cramping that went away when I stopped cold turkey.
Now research says that longtime users of artificial sweeteners tend to have higher blood glucose levels.
It seems when it comes to what we put into our bodies, we could end up paying a hefty price for so-called “guilt-free” items.
Don’t even get me started about gluten-free.