Low-calorie foods are booming: cold cuts, milk, cheese, granola bars, soft drinks, salty snacks — there are “light” versions of all these foods and many more. We turn to “light” products because we want to eat healthy and hope they will help us lose weight. We automatically associate words like “sugar-free,” “low-fat,” or “wellness” with health and well-being. But do these “low-calorie” products really deliver what they promise?

What are “light” foods?

Wherever it says “light,” it means there is less of something: for example, less fat or less or no sugar. “Light” products have to contain at least 30% fewer calories than standard products. There are a lot of different terms for “light” products, but each term has its own meaning. Here is a list of the most common terms and their definitions:

Fat-free: no more than 0.5 grams of total fat for a given serving size*Calorie-free: fewer than 5 calories for a given serving size % fat-free: must contain 3 grams or less of total fat for a given serving size. A “100% fat-free” claim can only be made for foods that meet the criteria for “fat-free” and also have less than 0.5 grams of fat per 100 grams and contain no added…

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