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Animal Welfare and Ingredient Lists Now Matter More Than Fat and Sugar Content

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Market research shows low-fat is out, cage-free is in

Paula Bronstein/Getty Images

Low-fat is out and cage-free is in. Recent revelations in the realm of nutrition and health mean "people are turning to foods they shunned just a couple of years ago," reports the New York Times. Market research shows consumers are now paying more attention to artificial ingredients and animal welfare and less to fat, sugar, and sodium content than they did a decade ago.

Over the past several years, studies have debunked some long-held ideas about nutrition — namely, that not all dietary fat is bad for us, and neither is sodium — and people are taking notice. The Times notes that sales of full-fat ice cream are on the rise compared to lower-fat, lower-calorie versions, while sales of beef jerky — which is high in sodium but also high in protein — "shot up 46.9 percent from 2011 to 2015."

Such changing attitudes are leading big chains and food manufacturers to make changes to their products and the way they market them. Countless major restaurant chains (and even retail giant Walmart) have announced they're switching to cage-free eggs and/or antibiotic-free meats, while brands from General Mills to Subway are phasing out artificial flavorings and colorings, and proudly slapping labels on foods that don't contain GMOs.