How good is low-fat food?

Do diet products benefit your figure or just the sellers' wallets?

Foto: IFB Adipositas

The supermarket shelfs are full of low-fat foods. So-called diet products not only promise a slim waist but also a quite conscience. Balance yoghurt and lowfat salami are popular because they raise hopes of quickly losing weight. But can overweights really lose weight permanently with those products?

Fats are important energy providers. In comparison carbs and proteins only contain half the energy. Fats are indispensable for the human body since they not only store energy but they also protect the inner organs, serve as transport agents and help with the assimilation of liposoluble substances such as vitamins. The body also prepares for hard times with fat: energy is stored in the form of fat in the cells. If those reserves increase it becomes critical for the body weight.

Therefore fats are a focus for the food industry concerning calory savings. If fats are reduced in food than also the calory intake is - that is the theory of food producers anyway. But fats are almost indispensable for the enjoyment since it is often thanks to them that the flavours can really come out. This poses a great challenge for the food industry because diet products should contain less fat but taste like the original product at the same time.

In order to develop new ideas for the production of low-fat food experts from industry and economy came together in the research circle of food industry. Scientists try to decode the composition of fats in eleven projects there. The research circle first and foremost deals with lipoids in its projects which play a key role when it comes to satiation. Also it is the goal of those projects to explain the complex relations between composition of fats, aroma and flavour. The desired success to contribute to a balanced nutrition of the population has not yet been achieved according to the circle. On the contrary: consumers do in fact buy diet products but consume all the more of them.

Can fat-reduced food help in the fight against overweight at all or are they only alibi products of the marketing oriented food lobby? "Diet products alone do not lead to a better body weight," knows Mario Hellbardt of the Integrated Research and Treatment Center (IFB) AdiposityDiseases in Leipzig. Generally a reduction of the total fat consumption in the frame of weight management is desireable. But this should not happen randomly since there is no proven effect on the long-term development, the nutritionist and health scientist explains.

Hellbardt optimizes the treatment and aftercare of adipose patients at the outpatient clinics of the IFB. He recommends a tailormade fat consumption that takes the fat quality as well as the amount of fat into consideration. It is also recommendable to carefully read the ingredients when buying diet products. To understand those ingredients "our patients learn at the outpatient clinic at the IFB." After all it is all about a holistic lifestyle change as well as a change in eating behavior if obese people really want to lose weight permanently.

Annekathrin Härter

More information:
Here you find Tips for a low-fat diet (in German).

Forschungskreis der Ernährungsindustrie „Erfolgreich gegen das Übergewicht. Lösungsansätze für fettreduzierte Lebensmittel. (Research Circle of the food industry "Successfull against overweight. Solution approaches for low-fat food.")

Keywords: nutrition & diet