Almost half of the foods that are promoted as ‘natural’ are unhealthy, a supermarket study has found.
Researchers analysing the quality of products featuring natural claims, discovered that almost five in 10 were high in saturated fat, sugar and salt.
Dieticians are worried that their clever marketing could be convincing shoppers to over-indulge in processed foods at the expense of fresh fruit and vegetables and other altervives.
Three in five Australian adults recently polled said they are more likely to buy products described as ‘natural’’.
LiveLighter Victoria manager Alison McAleese said 154 of 331 studied foods with the words “natural” or “nature” on packaging were not a core part of a recommended healthy diet.
“We’re concerned that some consumers are confused and think natural automatically means it is good for you, and that is not always the case,” Ms McAleese said.
“Natural is most commonly used on products like snack bars, muesli bars, chips, lollies, crackers and biscuits which should only be eaten occasionally.”
Of 97 reviewed ‘natural’ snacks, the researchers found that almost 9 in 10 to be unhealthy as they were discretionary rather than a core food group.
Customers are being told to look at the saturated fat content on the labels and also the health star label, to figure out whether their food is healthy.