Researchers ponder the saturated fat comeback as sodium, sugar decrease in processed foods

A Washington Post article highlights a new government report that shows many packaged food and beverage products enter and exit the marketplace in a short period of time, and from 2009-2012 the nutrients in such products changed. Food manufacturers have created new packaged products with less sodium and sugar, but more saturated fat than the products that have left the market. The Post article interviews various researchers who present differing possible explanations for the changing nutrient profile, including Dr. Barry Popkin:

Sodium reduction initiatives from industry and government have led companies to slash salt, he said, and a consumer revolt against sweetened foods and beverages has encouraged sugar cuts. As for saturated fats, he said, there is some evidence to suggest that manufacturers have used them to replace their more dangerous cousin, trans fats.

Forthcoming research from his team has also found that some foods that typically contain more saturated fats, such as savory snacks, have become more popular with consumers. The report notes that whole-milk yogurt, for instance — which contains more saturated fat — has seen a resurgence.

“They are independent trends,” he said — although he expects them to interact in the real world.

Read more from the Washington Post here, and read the full report from USDA-ERS here.