Healthy Eating as a Marketing Toy

The push and pull is simply insane. No wonder people get all crazy in their heads about eating and gaining/losing weight.  I was at the dentist’s office thumbing through a copy of Woman’s Day last week and hit an article about choosing the healthiest foods; smack in the middle of the first page of this article was an ad featuring the goopiest-looking piece of apple pie you’ve ever seen, with the tagline: “there’s only one thing keeping you from licking this page.”  The next page featured the same mountain of pie, this time topped with an oversized dollop of irresistable creamy Reddi-Wip. That damn pie DID look good. And no, I can’t remember a thing about the healthy food choices the article was touting.

And get this: here in my hometown of San Francisco, the tantalizing aroma of fresh-baked chocolate chip cookies will soon be pumped into bus stations around the city. This campaign is the brainchild Staring_at_bun of the California Milk Processor Board, in the hopes that “the captive crowds waiting for a bus will be enticed to go home and grab a glass of milk after they take a whiff of the artificial scent and are cued visually with ‘Got Milk?’ advertisements to be posted in the shelters.”  This is just wrong!  I say this as a person not even struggling with a weight problem, but diabetic and allergic to most baked goods.  Why torture us with such empty temptation?  Here we are all up in arms about bringing healthier foods into schools, and they are blasting public bus stations with the seduction of sweets?!

(btw, I love the teenager who commented: “”It’s going to smell like cookies and bums”)

Meanwhile, on the other side of the marketing camp, a new web site called is aiming to “make health(ier) restaurant dining more convenient for consumers.”  The San Diego company that publishes the trendy Healthy Dining guides has teamed with the National Restaurant Association to launch this new site, which allows you to search (by zip code, type of cuisine, or price) for restaurant dishes that are lowish in calories and fat.  You can also check the cholesterol and sodium content of some menu items, and links to Yahoo maps helps you find the places you select.

The site officially launches in January 2007, but you can try the beta version now.  The downside is having to wade through a fair amount of PR-speak furnished by each restaurant (they pay a fee to appear on the guide). But the site claims that actual dieticians are monitoring all of the content.

Either way, I tend to doubt that anyone has our best healthy eating interests in mind here.  It’s more about selling product.  Let’s face it, they’d pump the aroma of healthy foods into public bathrooms if they thought that would entice us to buy, wouldn’t they?


5 Responses

  1. Nina
    Nina December 5, 2006 at 9:39 am | | Reply

    That bus station/cookie thing is outrageous! On a positive note, NYC (where I live) has approved a ban on the use of trans fats in restaurants! Every single restaurant in the city has to replace the trans fats they use in food preparation with something healthier by 2008.
    By the way, I love your site!

  2. Jana
    Jana December 5, 2006 at 11:53 am | | Reply

    “the tantalizing aroma of fresh-baked chocolate chip cookies will soon be pumped into bus stations around the city.”

    You can’t make this stuff up! ROFLMAO This may have made my day…

  3. Colleen
    Colleen December 5, 2006 at 2:32 pm | | Reply

    I found your site on BlogHer – I have a blog about training for the 3-Day walk for breast cancer as well as other health/fitness topics – would you be interested in a link or entry exchange?

  4. AK
    AK December 5, 2006 at 6:56 pm | | Reply

    No, they’re not making this up–some creeps have arranged to pump faux chocolate chip cookie scene into the air at certain bus shelters in SF.

    This is vile.

    And here’s some context: go to Oakland Airport, go to the domestic terminal, go past security check into the Southwest Airlines section.

    Then, go into the ladies room–and you will find sharps disposal boxes for syringes!

    This cant be for the convenience of heroin addicts–I think there may be so many persons on insulin flying Southwest that they had to install disposal units for used syringes.

    I’m almost 50. When I was a kid it considered relatively rare, kind of a big deal if someone had diabetes, either Type 1 or 2.

    Now we have a frigging epidemic. Last thing we need is to torture people with fake cookie odor.

    Its hard enough eating well and keeping ones family on track without sneaky sh*t distractions like this.

    Who ever thought up that ad campaign and whoever OK’d it should all be required to use a glucometer and test their blood sugar 4 times a day for 2 months.

    Too bad there’s no such thing as Diabetes Police and a Judge Judy to enforce this kind of justice…

  5. Rachel
    Rachel December 5, 2006 at 7:14 pm | | Reply

    Okayyy, maybe I don’t want to go back to SF anytime soon. ;)

    I’ve been toying with an idea of a website with a database that can tell you healthier (or at least local, slightly healthier) places to eat on road trips than the fast food joints at major highway interchanges. Though this new website might fill that need…

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