Study: “No Fat,” “No Sugar,” no guarantee of nutritional quality

Nutrient claims such as “Low Fat” or “Sugar Free” on food packaging may give consumers a sense of confidence before they make a purchase, but these claims do not always reflect the overall nutritional quality of the food.

These are the findings of a new study led by GFRP researchers in collaboration with the Duke-UNC USDA Center for Behavioral Economics and Healthy Food Choice Research. The study, titledNo Fat, No Sugar, No Salt….No Problem? Prevalence of ‘Low-Content’ Nutrient Claims and their Associations with the Nutritional Profile of Food and Beverage Purchases in the United States Low-Content’ Nutrition Claims on Packaged Goods Misleading for Consumers,” published online March 15 and will appear in the upcoming issue of the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

Dr. Lindsey Smith Taillie and her fellow researchers undertook the study to better understand how low-content nutrient claims featured on food and beverage packages relate to purchasing habits, as well as what association these claims have to products’ actual nutritional content. Investigators also examined what demographic groups purchased greater proportions of foods and beverages with low-content claims.

Find out more about the study in the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health press release, or read the full study here.

This work was conducted at the UNC-Duke USDA Center for Behavioral Economics and Healthy Food Choice Research (BECR) and funded by Healthy Eating Research, a national program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.