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New Delhi, India: What food labels don’t say

Walk through the aisles of any grocery superstore, and as you explore the massive range of packaged food that surrounds you from every corner, you might think you’ve stepped into a hub for all that is healthy. Colourful labels on boxes of cream cookies scream “sugar-free”, chocolate cereal bars are “made with wholegrains”, there are “fat-free” gummy bears and licorice sticks, and “all natural” fruit juices. It seems almost too hard to go wrong.

But behind each claim, no matter how boldly displayed on package labels, is the fine print that questions its legitimacy, and begs to ask – just how healthy is what you’re eating everyday? “Most claims on labels are incorrect, not scientifically proven, or highly exaggerated,” says Dr Anoop Misra, director, Fortis-C-DOC Centre of Excellence for Diabetes, Metabolic Diseases and Endocrinology. “Unrelated claims also tend to be misleading. Candy is obviously fat-free, but advertising that makes consumers overlook the fact that it is pure sugar,” adds fitness expert Raghav Pande.

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