Q. What is the difference between a food labelled ‘diet’ and one labelled ‘low-fat’?

Written by Catherine Saxelby on Friday, 04 June 2010.
Tagged: dairy, diabetes, diet foods, dieting, diets, fat, weight loss

 Q. What is the difference between a food labelled ‘diet’ and one labelled ‘low-fat’?

A. If a food claims its ‘low fat’, it must contain no more than 3g of fat per 100g which is the same as 3 per cent fat. Many products turn this around to say they are ‘97% fat-free’. This is the case for low-fat yoghurts, instant soups, cereals and rice crackers.

On the other hand, ‘diet’ means low in kilojoules or calories. By law, diet foods (sometimes labelled as ‘low joule’ foods) must contain less than 170 kilojoules (40 calories) per 100g. You’d see diet on diet jams, diet jelly, diet lollies, chewing gum and meal replacement shakes.

For example, in the dairy cabinet, you’ll find some yoghurts and desserts that are ‘low fat’ and some that are ‘diet’. The low fat ones have no more than 3 per cent fat (you can check this on the nutrition information panel) while the diet yoghurts are both low fat AND sweetened with acesulphame K or sucralose instead of sugar.

Diet yoghurts contain the least amount of fat and kilojoules of all products – this is as low as it gets!  Both low-fat and diet varieties are nutritious but the diet types are for the serious dieter!

Low-fat 200g tub           0-1g fat    6g added sugar    800kilojoules

Diet yoghurt 200g tub       0g fat        0g added sugar    380kilojoules


What about beverages?

Beverages have their own rules. For a drink to claim ‘low-fat’ it must contain no more than 1.5g of fat per 100ml - that is, the drink must be ‘98.5% fat-free’. For example, low fat milks and some juices.

Diet drinks must contain less than 80 kilojoules (20 calories) per 100ml. For example, diet soft drinks and cordials.

Catherine Saxelby

About the Author

Catherine Saxelby has the answers! She is an accredited nutritionist, blogger and award-winning author. Her latest book Nutrition for Life  is a new update on all the things you've read or heard about. Think insects, collagen, vegan eating, Keto dieting, vitamin B12, fast food and cafe culture.  It has plenty of colour pictures and is easy to dip in and out of. Grab your copy NOW!