The marketing war on obesity

With the obesity rate in America at an alarming percentage, more food companies are trying to be healthier, and the ones that aren't changing their ingredients are at least adding nutrition labels to help consumers make better eating decisions.

With the obesity rate in America at an alarming percentage, more food companies are trying to be healthier, and the ones that aren't changing their ingredients are at least adding nutrition labels to help consumers make better eating decisions.

From Bloomberg Businessweek:

Working with first lady Michelle Obama and her campaign to fight obesity, Supervalu is using color-coded labels to highlight foods rich in protein...or low in saturated fat. Wal-Mart has committed to lowering salt, sugar, and fat in some foods. Walgreens is selling fruits and vegetables at some of its drug-store locations.

But while Supervalu has used its Nutrition iQ program to label products since 2009, the company doesn't want to tell consumers what they should or should not eat.

Also, a color-coded label may not be the most accurate way to portray nutrition to consumers. A product that is low in sugar could be high in carbohydrates, or an item that is low in fat could be packed with sodium. Labels only skim the surface of nutritious information.

Maybe a better way to engage consumers about nutrition is through mobile apps, like the one McDonald's launched in July. The app lists all the nutritional facts, such as fat and calorie content, of every food item on the menu. And since it's available on smart phones, consumers can look up an item while they're in line at the fast-food restaurant.

Barilla is also doing something interesting in the nutrition space with its Barilla Center for Food & Nutrition (BCFN), which has expanded its efforts to include the US. The center focuses on major world issues, such as obesity and starvation, and performs research on how to remedy them.

While major food corporations are figuring out how to develop and market healthier food items, pet-food companies are doing the same thing. Hill Science Diet recently partnered with PetMD to develop “MyBowl,” a nutritional guide inspired by the USDA's MyPlate dietary guidelines. Maybe pet food marketing will be the next big trend seen in the nutrition space.

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