UPenn PRC Impact Symposium – Accelerating Policies & Research on Food Access, Diet, and Obesity Prevention
Alyssa Yackle, MPA, Amy Bleakley, PhD, MPH, Moriah Hall, MPH, Ben Young, all from the University of Pennsylvania. Moderated by Douglas J. Wiebe, PhD, UPenn PRC Training Core Lead
Jamie Chriqui, PhD, MHS, University of Illinois Chicago PRC,Stephenie Lemon, PhD, UMass Worcester PRC, Alice Ammerman, DrPH, University of North Carolina PRC, Carolyn Johnson, PhD, Tulane PRC
Healthy Foods Take a Back Seat to Junk Food When It Comes to Marketing: PRC Director Karen Glanz on Knowledge@Wharton
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.”
As a guest on Knowledge@Wharton radio, UPenn PRC Director Karen Glanz evaluated the health and financial implications of the Philadelphia’s new “soda tax” passed by City Council on June 16, 2016.
According to Glanz, while a difference in consumption could be seen within a year or two of implementation, the tax’s impact on disease risk factors may not be evident for another three to five years.
UPenn PRC Director, Karen Glanz, PhD, and Wharton marketing professor, Jason Riis discussed the new Federal food labeling guidelines on the June 13, 2016 edition of Knowledge@Wharton.
Observing that past labeling revisions often were driven by a single concern, such as trans fats or sugar, Glanz sees the shift towards a more comprehensive approach to portion sizes and total calorie intake as beneficial . “If these labels can nudge things in that direction and/or nudge the industry to reformulate the foods that will be less high-calorie, then that could move things without necessarily depending on people’s conscious decision-making,” she said.
“That all hinges on whether people actually read it and understand it, and whether it is easy to see and digest,” Glanz said. Displaying the nutrition information on the front of packs ensures that “consumers don’t have to turn the pack around to see that, or bring out their reading glasses,”