UPenn PRC Director Karen Glanz, PhD, MPH, was interviewed with Penn Professor Jason Riis by Dan Loney on Knowledge@Wharton about how major brand marketing favors junk food over healthy food options in the consumer marketplace.  “Food production companies are in the business of making profit, not making healthier food,” Glanz noted, adding that short-term corporate expectations based on quarterly earnings hinder a long-term strategy to build consumer relationships with healthier food choices.

“Do they market healthy foods as heavily as unhealthy foods? Do healthy foods get the same bells and whistles and kid-friendly appeals as the bad stuff?” Glanz questioned, adding that the build-up of consumer dependence on salt, sugar, and fat has taken place over many years, a result of research and marketing that targets those taste cravings in consumers.

Glanz observed there has been more success in the promotion of low and zero calorie drinks and bottled water. “The beverage market is interesting and has a different trajectory than the food and snack market,” says Glanz. “Calorie-free drinks are well-established.  They sell less but sell well.”

Glanz also gave a nod to former First Lady Michelle Obama’s healthy eating and Let’s Move initiatives. “The First Lady’s signature programs have been a catalyst for promoting health. They’re two sides of the same issue.”