Helping Consumers Eat Less
Food Technology, May 2007
5 Pages Posted: 29 Jul 2014
Date Written: 2007
Food companies have been accused of contributing to the growing problem of obesity in the United States (Brownell and Horgen, 2004). They are in a sensitive position because they are torn between two groups of stakeholders — consumers who want a variety of tasty, inexpensive, convenient food, and concerned public policy officials and activists who believe that companies should be more responsive in helping combat obesity. What causes us to gain weight in the first place is the same three things that enabled our Paleolithic relatives to gain weight and survive the Ice Age — we are wired to overeat food that is convenient, palatable, and easy (inexpensive) to obtain. And we don’t become obese overnight. Slightly more than 85% of the population gain weight because of an average calorie excess of less than 25 calories/day. Yet 25 extra calories/day can gradually become a big problem over the long run. Such gradual problems seldom have instant solutions. There are, however, reasonable steps that can be taken to help turn back the tide a few calories at a time. Successful food companies and marketers have become successful because they have been able to create win-win situations for both themselves and consumers. They have been able to create foods and delivery systems that profitably satisfied what consumers wanted or needed. There is no reason to believe that addressing the obesity issue will be different. Having the motivation to profitably address this issue will produce some of the same ingenious, innovative solutions as it has in the past.
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