Are low sugar food labels misleading?

Low-sugar food labels! Ayurvedic doctor reveals new truth

Do you read the label before buying food products? Some do and many don’t. Well, it is recommended to read the food labels before buying the products. But does the label always speak the truth? Is there a smart trick int he label that misleads the consumers?

Let’s find out!

Food Labels

Food companies need to print important information on the pack to help people make smart choices. It displays the list of ingredients, nutrient quotient, precautions, price, expiry date and other important information. 

Who checks the food labels?

Everybody should!

Although many people never bother to read the package, I recommend you to check it every time.

There are many who follow this rule!

While some people check it to keep a count of calories. Some must check it for allergies. Many people with chronic illness also check for the label before adding the product to their cart.

Food Labels – What are they looking for?

One of the most common things that people look for is the tag of ‘Sugar-Free’.


Different names one meaning ‘fewer calories.’

As the world walks towards a fitness frenzy, people are fanatically looking for fad diets. Products that say these ‘sweetless’ terms.

But are food labels misleading?

Well, they can be.

Most of the times, marketers make smart use of words to trick gullible customers.

The label that says “no added sugar” might seem healthy and calorie-free but it need not necessarily be. 

It could also mean that the food is packed with artificial sweetener, which is more harmful. Or that the food naturally contains enough sugar!!

So, you need to read the ingredient lists very carefully. Learn the names of artificial sweeteners or google the ingredients. 

Be a step ahead with the power of knowledge and technology!

The Kellogg Feuds 

On Aug 2016, Kellogg faced a lawsuit for false advertising. The issue was with terms which include ‘Lightly Sweetened’, ‘Healthy’, Nutritious‘. These terms were used on selected Kellogg’s cereals. 

They were selling Kellogg as highly nutritive when it was high in sugar.

The argument implied they were low in sugar. But, in reality, they are composed of 18% to 40% added sugar. And the discovery of this secret cost them big time!

They did not just lose their reputation.

The company had to settle the case for $20million!

Not just that! They were also made to drop the words “healthy,” “wholesome,” “nutritious” or “benefits” from all their products.  

Such a big lie in the label of such a big brand comes as a shock to the consumers!

The case of Coco-Cola

Coco cola too had to taste the war of words for its “just a tad sweet” claim on the bottles of its Honest Iced Tea. This was misleading as the beverage contained a “significant” amount of added sugar. 

The tag line did not align with the constituents of the product which was listed on the label. Contrary to their tag line, sugar was the second most predominant ingredient of their beverage.

This was another big controversy involving the contradiction in the label!  

The misleading food labels

It’s not just Kelloggs or Coca Cola who made such mistakes. Many fruit juice labels, sing the same song. They add the tag of “low sugar” or “sugar-free” on the bottle, even though the products fail to fall in the category.

Another simple but striking example is diet coke. The calorie listed in diet coke is less than an apple. But does that mean diet coke is a healthier option to apple?

No way! 

Such wise use of words is simple marketing tactics to spike up the sales.

Also Read: The mathematics of weight loss

What a smart buyer like you should do?

  • Well, the first thing that you should do is read the label.
  • But I just called it misleading, then why should you read.
  • Well, here lies the trick. The marketers put the right information on the label. But you need a hawk’s eye to see it.
  • Don’t just read what’s written in bold and brazen letters. 
  • Read the list of ingredients. Understand the meaning of each. Google it if necessary. Then make your comparisons.

But why take so much pain?

If you are conscious about your diet or have certain restrictions then you better be cautious. 

Also, you must do research about things that you consume regularly. Because that’s where you are deriving your nutrients from. And fulfilling your daily RDA recommended nutrition is essential for good health and strong immunity.

In the current scenario, we all know the importance of immunity!!!

Are foods labelled with low sugar misleading to consumers?


Whether it’s your carbonated drinks or natural fruit juices, there is added sugar in it.

No matter what the label says!

If not sugar, then artificial sweetener. And if none of these, then there is natural sugar.

If your drink tastes sweet then there is sugar in some form!!!

Even the fresh fruit juices that you drink contains natural sugars. That’s why doctors recommend you to eat the whole fruit rather than the juice.

So, the best way to make smart purchasing is by reading the label with a magnifying glass and understanding every bit of information in it.

Because everything printed on that label serves either of the two purposes – sales or information! Filter out the sale baits and identify the actual information.

5 Tips to make a smart purchase

1. Go for a trusted brand 

Usually, a brand that believes in creating value for customers won’t stoop to cheap marketing tactics. Because their name has a bigger impact than the MRP.

2. Look for organic products 

Again read the label carefully. Everything that says organic might not be 100% organic. So, look for 100% organic.

3. Stay abreast of the latest information 

If you are a loyal consumer of a particular brand then follow the updates from that brand. Keep a tab on their website. 

4. Experiment after the experience 

If you want to try something new, then look for reviews and recommendations. Many genuine reviewers put up true information and experience of the product. These are not paid but honest opinion!

5. Quality over price 

 All place quality over MRP. Most of us are bothered with the MRP printed on the pack. Some go a step further to look for the expiry date. But hardly a few looks for the other info on the pack. Make a habit of reading the information and prioritize quality over price!!!

Be smart. Buy smart!

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Allan September 10, 2020 at 12:28 pm

Thanks for this informative article, Dr Nayak
“No Added Sugar” is one line of advertising that I fall for very often

Dr. Brahmanand Nayak September 14, 2020 at 2:59 pm

thank you

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