By Andrea Tangari, assistant professor, Department of Marketing and Supply Chain Management, Wayne State University School of Business
Nearly one-third of the calories in the standard American diet come from foods that add calories with little nutritional benefit--soft drinks, sweets and desserts, alcoholic beverages, and salty snacks (Block 2004). Therefore, it is not surprising that the prevalence of childhood and adult obesity, diabetes, and other chronic diseases has increased dramatically in the last 30 years. The unhealthiness of the American diet is the result of a complex mix of social, marketing, environmental, product, and individual (e.g., affective preferences) factors (Seiders and Petty 2004; Wansink 2010). Consequently, food consumption-related issues have been investigated from the perspective of many different disciplines. Within the field of marketing, much of this research has focused on the highly visible and well-publicized "obesity crisis." Given the strong relationship between the overconsumption of food and obesity, it is not surprising that calories have been the focus of many of these studies. However, America's recent preoccupation with calories has a potential downside—other negative nutrients (e.g., sodium, sugar, cholesterol) that are associated with the development of several serious health conditions which may not always be receiving the level of attention they deserve.