Are Your Food Fears Founded by Science or Social Media?

by Fitbie
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Are Your Food Fears Founded by Science or Social Media?

We like to label things in this country—from fitness (running is bad for your knees!), to celebrities (Miranda Lambert is too thin!) and clothing (Yoga pants can be worn anytime, anywhere!). It’s no wonder, that when it comes to what we eat, we scrutinize every ingredient in food labels. The American consumer is constantly being influenced on how to think about certain ingredients, taking labeling to another extreme level when they group foods in only two camps—”bad” and “good”—without stopping to think about the products as a whole.

New research in the journal Food Quality and Preference identified not only who among us fears food the most (a lot of social media addicts) but also what foods and additives are found most frightening. The study revealed that consumers find most of their exaggerated information on the Internet. Yup, surprise surprise: social media is fueling America’s food fears! Research also indicated that the ingredients associated with less healthy foods mainly hurt evaluation of foods perceived as relatively healthy.

For example: If you think high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is the devil, you’re not alone. But, would you be surprised to know that both sugar and HFCS work the same way in the body? Before you start warding off all sugar, we consulted with Dr. Kevin Campbell, MD, FACC, to get his 4 commonly feared additives and the truth about whether or not you should include them in your diet.

1. Artificial sweeteners
What they are: Artificial sweeteners serve as sugar substitutes.
Where you find them: Found in many foods that are marketed as “diet” or “sugar free.”
Fear or fear not: “There have been controversies surrounding artificial sweeteners for years. However, according to the National Cancer Institute there is no scientific evidence that these substances cause cancer or other serious health problems,” assures Campbell, who also notes that “Artificial sweeteners are useful in helping patients with diabetes and also those who wish to work on weight control.”
Verdict: Fear not

2. Synthetic Trans Fats
What they are: Trans fats are formed when hydrogen is added to vegetable oil during food processing in order to make it solidify. The process makes fat less likely to spoil, so foods appear to remain fresher longer, have a longer shelf life, and also have less-greasy feel.
Where you find them: Fast food and in certain grocery store boxed goods.
Fear or fear not: This one is simple, according to Campbell. “Trans fats are one of the worst foods that we can ingest. They are laden with fats that are more likely to increase body weight. They are clearly associated with heart disease and obesity, and [it’s my opinion] that you should avoid trans fats at all costs.”
Verdict: Be afraid

3. Artificial Flavors and Colors
What they are: Additives and preservatives are used to increase shelf life of foods and to preserve color.
Where you find them: Everywhere! To avoid then, Campbell suggests “looking for “organic” or “additive free” labels” when shopping in the grocery store.
Fear or fear not: It’s a push. “There is some data to suggest that some of these additives and colors can be associated with behavioral problems in children including ADHD as well as hypersensitivity reactions.”
Verdict: Avoid when possible

4. High Fructose Corn Syrup
What it is: Another substance that has little or no nutritional value and is calorie dense.
Where you find it: Soft drinks, salads and salad dressings, breads, processed snacks and bars.
Fear or fear not: “HFCS intake is associated with obesity and obesity can lead to diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure and other chronic diseases. These substances should be avoided and have no role in a healthy diet.”
Verdict: Fear

Do you have any food fears? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

About the Author


msn-fitbie-logoThis article originally appeared on Fitbie is a diet and fitness destination for everyone, whether you’re looking to lose 10 pounds or run a marathon. Our eating tipsworkout advice and healthy dose of fitness humor seek to inspire you to reach the next level on your fitness journey. Follow Fitbie on TwitterFacebookPinterest, or Instagram.


6 responses to “Are Your Food Fears Founded by Science or Social Media?”

  1. Avatar ILiftHeavyAcrylics says:


  2. Avatar Benji says:

    The beginning of the article says that HFCS is processed the same way as sugar. The end says to fear it. What? But I don’t like the idea of fearing any foods. That’s the stuff that fuels eating disorders.

  3. Avatar fearthis says:

    So this article is saying to fear all sugar? WTF

  4. Avatar Dave Gee says:

    Oh, the irony!

    Seriously, MFP; do you even bother to read the articles you publish?

    Your 4 points go on to do exactly what the first sections warns against.
    We are told to blanket avoid where possible stuff that will not affect us (presuming we’re not kids with ADHD etc). Then to ‘fear’ sugar, which isn’t an issue if you’re in ok shape – and if you’re not, I’d be fearing not being in ok shape way before I worried about the sugar ;).
    Even trans-fats, as part of an overall healthy lifestyle, shouldn’t be a big issue to consume occasionally – again, being generally in shape will have a much bigger positive effect from what I’ve seen than negatives from food.
    Yet so many ignore the basics thanks to social media articles like this!

  5. Avatar dewymorning says:

    Wow, a high calorie food is associated with obesity! What a coincidence.

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