So-called “healthy” products may contain higher levels of fat, salt and sugar than standard products, a consumer association magazine has warned.

The Consumers’ Association’s magazine, Health Which?, compared the number of calories and the levels of fat, sugar and salt in healthy and standard products from nine supermarkets, reported BBC News Online.

Health Which? found that some “healthy” product ranges did not differ from standard ranges in terms of levels of fat, sugar and salt. In some cases, the “healthy” versions had higher levels of fat, sugar and salt. As an example, the magazine gave Marks & Spencer’s “healthy” stem ginger cookies which contained 79% less fat than their standard version and slightly less salt, but contained 50g of sugar per 100g, which was double the amount that was in standard cookies.

A spokeswoman for Marks & Spencer was quoted by the BBC as saying the product was labelled as having “less than 5%” fat to help customers make “an informed choice as part of a balanced diet”.

Further more, Health Which? found that the price of “healthy” foods are often more expensive than their standard counterparts, in some cases costing up to twice as much.

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As an example Health Which? gave the difference in price between Sainsbury’s Spaghetti Bolognese, which costs 99p, and the healthy version, which is twice as expensive.

A Sainsbury’s spokeswoman was quoted by the BBC as saying, “Ready meal dishes such as Spaghetti Bolognese cannot be directly compared, as they are different weights.”

She added that the sugar content in the Be Good to Yourself Spaghetti Bolognese range was 0.9g not 3.4g per 100g, as Health Which? claimed.

Kaye McIntosh, editor of Health Which?, said: “Consumers need to check labels very carefully to be sure they are actually getting the health benefits and calorie savings they want.

“Don’t be fooled by the claims made in the marketing hype.”