Misrepresenting The Fat Content of Foods

Food labeling is more complex than it may first appear. One aspect of food labelling that can be misinterpreted is regarding the fat content. Fat is a group of hydrocarbon chemicals that contain 9 calories per gram when oxidised. This is in comparison to the 3.75 calories for carbohydrate and 4.1 calories for protein. Fat is therefore a more dense source of energy than either carbohydrates or protein, containing more than twice as much energy. Some food labels measure fat content as a percentage of the total. For example, a particular food may be labelled as 5 % fat and 20 % protein per 100 grams. On the face of it this food may not appear to contain a large amount of fat compared to protein. However, if we convert the percentage figures to energy, then the food contains roughly 45 calories of fat per 100 grams and 82 calories of protein per 100 grams. Therefore around one third of the energy in the food is fat, despite the fact that the label stated correctly that the food was just 5 % fat. 

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About Robert Barrington

Robert Barrington is a writer, nutritionist, lecturer and philosopher.
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