Does Low Fat Mean the Same Thing as Reduced Fat?

Is Reduced Fat Milk the Same as Low Fat Milk?. Richard Levine / Corbis News / Getty Images

Question: Does low fat mean the same thing as reduced fat?

Answer: No. Food labels can be confusing but the low fat and reduced fat claims do have specific meanings.

Low fat means a product contains 3 grams of fat or less per serving, and 30 percent or less of the total calories are from fat.

Reduced fat, on the other hand, refers to a product's claim to contain at least 25 percent less fat than the original version. So the "reduced" is referring to the amount of fat that has been removed from the original product. Take a package of reduced-fat muffins, for example. If the original fat content per muffin was 20 grams, and the fat has been reduced to 15 grams, the fat content has decreased by 25 percent and is therefore considered "reduced fat."

However, 15 grams of fat is still five times higher than the 3 grams per serving that officially qualifies as low fat. So clearly reduced fat does not mean that the food is low fat.