The Blog

July 1, 2015

All About “Leanwashing”

The grocery store is filled with an abundance of food choices, and it may seem easy to distinguish the healthy snacks from the unhealthy ones. Food brands label their products with phrases like “multigrain, light, fat-free, no sugar added, and all natural..” and the common consumer is trusting of these statements because brands can’t lie, right? The truth is there are a lot of food brands out there that manipulate language and use a marketing tactic called “leanwashing.”

Screen Shot 2015-07-01 at 8.45.15 AM

The average shopper usually has little time to stop and observe the nutrition facts on the back of each product in the store. That is why these leanwashing phrases seem to do us a favor and make healthy shopping easier. But these healthy word tricks only mislead grocery shoppers.

Advertisements that use leanwashing as a tactic mislead us by:

  • Making vague health claims
  • Leaving out important health information
  • Using deceptive imagery

When you shop, question words like:

  • Freshleanwashing / misleading labels
  • All Natural
  • Organic
  • Gluten Free
  • No Sugar / Reduced Sugar
  • With Vitamins / Minerals
  • Whole Grain
  • 100 Calories
  • Naturally Sweetened
  • Low-Calorie
  • No Trans Fat

Many of us are trying to pursue a healthy lifestyle but are being fooled by ads and product packaging. As consumers, we need to be skeptical and unveil the truth by looking to the nutrition facts. A tool developed by EnviroMedia called The Leanwashing Index rates food products on the truthfulness of their health claims, and the Fooducate app  let’s you scan food labels right in the store to see a health score for that product!


Written by Ashlynne Youngblood, Choose Healthier Intern


Stay Connected

We use social media to share resources, tools, and information to help you, your family, and your friends live healthy lives. It’s also a great way to join and connect with a growing network of Texans committed to making living healthy easier in our great state!