Dieters warned to steer clear of 'healthy' dips and spreads that are high in calories
World Cancer Research Fund study reveals ‘troubling’ lack of knowledge regarding calorie content of foods

They are widely regarded as ‘healthy’ options, guilt-free alternatives to snacks such as crisps and chocolate.

But most of us are unaware that many of
the dips and spreads, such as hummus, that we believe are better for us
are in fact very high in calories, a survey has shown.

The World Cancer Research Fund study revealed a ‘troubling’ lack of knowledge regarding the calorie content of foods.

High energy: Hummus, which is made from chickpeas, pictured has a surprisingly high calorie content

High energy: Hummus, which is made from chickpeas, pictured has a surprisingly high calorie content

A survey conducted for the charity found two thirds of Britons underestimate the number of calories in hummus.

The dip, made from chickpeas, contains
on average 332 calories per 100g – more than 10 per cent of the
recommended daily intake for women.

But, despite exceeding the ‘high’ level
of ‘energy density’ as defined by the WCRF, which applies to food
containing more than about 225 calories per 100g, it is widely
considered to be ‘healthy’.

The YouGov poll of 2,000 people also
found that only 29 per cent knew that even reduced-fat mayonnaise was
high in calories.

Double dip warning

It has an average of 259 per 100g. And while many
underestimated the energy content of less healthy snacks, a fifth of
those polled overestimated the calorie count in bananas.

They described the fruit as high in calories, when it in fact contains only 95 per 100g.

The WCRF said the lack of calorie
awareness was a concern because of the many diseases associated with
being overweight or obese, which include cancer.

A spokesman said: ‘It seems a lot of people are still confused about the calorie content of everyday foods.

‘This troubling lack of understanding is
perhaps not helped by labels such as 'light' and 'reduced fat' when
these are applied to foods which still have a high calorie content.

‘At this time of year many people make
New Year’s resolutions to lose weight but to do this it is important
that they understand how to determine whether a food is high in
calories.'