Fatten up your semi-skimmed knowledge

Do you drink semi-skimmed milk instead of “full fat” because you know it’s better for you? Or do you prefer fully skimmed? More importantly, are you choosing a skimmed milk because you assume it’s good for you without knowing anything about how much fat it contains?

According to a poll of 3,000 Brits conducted by The Milk Marketing Forum revealed that almost two fifths (37%) of us say avoiding too much fat is the most important consideration when we cook – more important than salt content.

Despite two thirds (66%) of respondents claiming to have good knowledge of how much fat is in different foods, very few people accurately identified the correct fat content of everyday products. When asked to guess the fat content of a glass of semi-skimmed milk, 86% of people got the answer wrong.

Semi-skimmed milk contains less than 2% fat yet on average people thought the fat content was 21.6%, 12 times higher than the actual figure.

And many were way off the mark. One in 10 Brits – equivalent to more than 4.5 million people on a national scale – thought that semi-skimmed milk contained more than 50% fat.

Milk’s position in the fat misconception stakes was only trumped by tuna steak, which was – on average – thought to contain 20% fat, 19 times above the true figure of 1%.

The top five most over-estimated foods for fat content
Food – Perceived amount (Actual amount)

  1. One tuna steak – 20% (1%)
  2. A glass of semi-skimmed milk – 21.6% (1.7%)
  3. One serving of oven chips – 38% (4.2%)
  4. One pot of strawberry yoghurt – 23.3% (3%)
  5. One egg – 40% (10.8%)

At the other end of the scale, the results showed that there are also misconceptions about foods with a high fat content. On average, olive oil, which is nearly 100% fat, was thought to contain just 40% fat.

Dr Judith Bryans, a registered nutritionist and director of The Dairy Council said, “It’s great that so many Brits pay attention to their fat intake but this research shows that people’s knowledge of ‘fat facts’ is actually rather thin on the ground. People have preconceived ideas about the ‘goodies’ and ‘baddies’ when it comes to nutritional values and are mistakenly labelling some foods as high in fat, when really they’re not. Low fat milk is less than 2% fat and is a source of vitamins and essential minerals such as calcium.”

Jayne Middlemiss, host of Live from Studio Five and winner of Celebrity Masterchef in 2009 said, “I love cooking at home and the fat content of ingredients I use is something I take seriously. Some people, like myself, may not realise the true fat content of the foods they eat. I hope that we can all learn from these survey results and that in future, we will be more mindful about the actual fat content of foods. It’s so easy to make changes if you do want to cut down on the amount of fat you consume, for instance, cook with semi-skimmed instead of whole milk.”

The Milk Marketing Forum conducted the research as part of the ‘make mine Milk’ campaign: www.makemineMilk.co.uk.

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