Sunday, July 14, 2019

Is Your Favorite Healthy Food As Healthy As You Think?

Cereals galore at any supernarket
Since my accident, unless we're travelling, I always have the same oats for breakfast with Oatly oat milk. (Disclaimer- we are not sponsored by Oatly, we buy all the Oatly milk we drink). Sometimes I have them for lunch too.

My breakfast (left) and lunch
One of my patients who moved to the UK recently but came back for a meeting came to see me in the clinic commented that she has seen me eat the same oats in a jar five years ago. Some (good) things never change. Often, patients who see me eating my jar of oats (for lunch) often ask me what I'm eating.
My lunch jar that I eat at work
Thanks to my wife, we have definitely become lots more aware of what we eat as a family. We know nutrient dense food is good for us so we always try to eat and drink healthy.

The oats/ cereal we eat is nothing like the boxes of cereal you get the at supermarkets. It's common to see words like "wholesome', "all natural" on boxes of cereal there. Turns out they may just be claims.

A group of researchers analyzed more than 600 boxes of breakfast cereals across four separate studies. Their goal was to determine whether cereal products marketing claim like "no additives" or "high in vitamins" were supported by actual health benefits like weight loss.

Turns out, there was no substance to the claims. There was no link to the cereal's nutritional quality. This however, did not stop shoppers from buying cereals that were perceived to be "healthier".

More specifically, shoppers had a more positive attitude and chose products that were claimed to be made with healthy ingredients like whole grains over cereals that claim to remove something "bad" like gluten.

Shoppers also believed that "homemade" labels or cereal made with "no preservatives" tended to be more delicious. They also believed that cereals labelled as "low fat", "low sugar" or "light" helped them lose weight.

Next time you see such claims or boasts, remember these claims are not indicators of health benefits. Best to look at the ingredients to gauge sugar, fiber, trans fat and protein etc to help you decide.


Andre Q, Chandon P et al (2019). Healthy Through Presence Or Absence, Nature Or Science? : A Framework Understanding Front-Of-Package Food Claims. J Pub Policy Mtkg. DOI: 10.1177/0743915618824332.

My boys like Nutri Grain or Iron man food (as they call it) by Kellogg's. I do too, but it's got way to much sugar in it. I used to eat lots of it while in Australia.

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