The Lowdown On Light Snacks

According to new research, choosing low-fat versions of your favorite snacks may not be the best choice when watching your weight. Scientists at Purdue University found that “light” potato chips can encourage you to gain weight. The results, published by the American Psychological Association, show that synthetic fat substitutes (like the ones used in low-calorie chips) may actually contribute to weight gain and obesity.

The researchers conducted experiments with different groups of rats on different diets, feeding them full calorie Pringles and low-calorie Pringles Light (made with olestra, a zero calorie fat substitute). The rats on high-fat diets that ate low-calorie chips, gained the most weight.

Fat substitutes may confuse the body since fatty foods (which are usually high in calories) trigger bodily responses such as salivation, hormonal secretions and metabolic reactions. When the body expects to receive a large burst of calories but instead receives a fat substitute, the body becomes confused. What this means is that a low-fat, low-calorie diet may be more effective for weight-loss than using fat substitutes.