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Are 'skinny' products a problem?

Expert says 'skinny' doesn't necessarily mean 'healthy'

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Do you start your day with a "skinny" latte? Scarf down a "skinny" sandwich at lunch? Or maybe hit "happy hour" for a "skinny cocktail?"

There's a saying in advertising that "sex sells," but when it comes to selling food and drinks,"skinny" is the word companies are using to catch our eye.

Real Housewife Bethenny Frankel has built her highly successful brand around her Skinnygirl products, but she has plenty of company on the "skinny" bandwagon.

"At this time of year, we're seeing more and more menu items being labeled as 'skinny,' said Lisa Cimperman, a registered dietitian at University Hospitals Case Medical Center.

Cimperman cautions the label "skinny" doesn't really mean anything unless the calories and fat are listed too. The federal government has fat and calorie standards when words like "low calorie" and "light" are used on labels, but there is no such requirement for the word "skinny."

"Skinny" doesn't necessarily mean healthy

"If there's a lot of artificial products in there like artificial sweeteners or low fat products with a lot of other fillers in them, that may be something that you want to stay away from and just have a smaller portion of the regular version," said Cimperman.

There is also concern about the bigger message the word "skinny" is sending.

"Where skinny comes in is that it is that hook that draws people in, because in some cases, we care more about how we look than how healthy we are," said Cimperman. "We would like people to be motivated by health and feeling good and living longer."

Cimperman said the trend of restaurants offering more low-calorie options is a good one, but she urges consumers not to be mislead.

"Ideally, we want people to be eating real, healthy foods, like fruits and vegetables, in an effort to manage their weight," said Cimperman. "By drinking a skinny latte, you're not going to get skinny."