Fear Marketing and the “Ho w to” of Food
When it comes to health and food, the past decade’s paradox is striking: one the one hand, the agri-food industry increased its promises, while on the other hand, we saw a higher prevalence of obesity, cardiovascular diseases and certain cancers. Worse still, “fear marketing” continues to feed consumers a non-stop diet of anxiety-provoking information.
The problem is that there are as many solutions being proposed as there are product manufacturers, doctors and newspapers, and the complexity of those solutions does nothing but boost public fear. Manufacturers are in it for the money, responding in an ever more inflationary way to make their increasingly costly research pay for itself. Next comes health professionals. Not the doctors who treat patients, but those on manufacturers’ payrolls for their advice and name. They contribute to the excessive medicalization of the food we buy, even though no one was asking for it. Above all, they upset consumers by blurring the line between food and medication. And then there’s the media, mouthpieces for manufacturers’ communication departments. They provide a phenomenal echo for these irrational fears. And they do it so effectively that they almost single-handedly boost sales to consumers worried, nay terrified, by the media’s harrowing coverage.
It’s high time to reverse this vicious cycle. This nutritional background noise must make way for more reasonable, more reasoned, information.
In Europe, some see the current regulatory efforts as a sign of willingness to clear the air. But we have to be careful, because the medicine can sometimes do more harm than the illness itself. By insisting on dialogue whose allegations are backed by proof, we foster both the essential contribution of the medical field and the complexity of its message.
However, today’s consumers are increasingly seeking simpler, more natural products, while rejecting products deemed too complex. Manufacturers are going to need to accept that today’s consumers are intelligent and fully capable of determining for themselves what is good for them and what is less so. In fact, consumers can do exactly that, given some initial education on adopting healthy behaviors, along with useful and straightforward information every time they choose.
If we could make only one change, it would have to be a political change: our children need to be taught “how to eat” (rather than “nutrition”) from the outset. We may eat three meals a day, but food education in our schools is letting us down. Politicians who would dare to make the necessary decision would be doing something extremely worthwhile on the public health front, something that would benefit the next generation.Tapez ici votre texte