Obesity,Diets#Eating Disorders#Bullying#Fat Acceptance#Please Share
Friday, 25 June 2010, 08:13 AM
How fat are we? If a careful reading of a new CDC report released this
week is any indication we are in a deep fried mess. Anyone remember the
1990’s? Just taking the data back to 1997 we see the adult obesity
levels in 2009 have risen 44%. Our incidence of adult obesity in 1997
was 19% and now it is 28%. Who is the fattest? By age, the baby boomer
generation has taken the number one spot at 32%. That does not bode well
for future health as we take our boomer obese bodies into our 60’s and
70s. I heard a few weeks ago that we are on average 20 pounds heavier
than in 1960. In one generation we have become a bunch of fatties.
The results are indicative of a future where medical costs for obesity will overwhelm government budgets. Diabetes rates, according to
this CDC report have almost doubled since 1997 from 5.1% to 9%. Despite
the precipitous rise of obesity and diabetes, our commitment to regular
exercise stayed at the low 30% rate.
The implications for drug, OTC, food, diet and beverage companies are that there is enormous potential in developing products and services to
deal with the obesity problem. No health care reform program will
succeed in making us healthier without getting a handle on obesity
prevention and treatment.
As a society we are not likely to get people to lose weight or reverse the rising incidence without some dramatic action. Private
industry is going to need to make a concerted effort to develop weight
loss products that actually work long-term. The magic pill may one day
be found to control our hunger urges and metabolism, but for the near
future we are going to need to do a better job selling the effective
products and services we have.
The fact that obesity rates are rising so fast is an indication that our collective marketing efforts have failed to convince us to maintain a
healthy weight. The calories laden foods and beverages have won.
Sensible diet and exercise is losing. Who is at fault? Consumers have
become addicted to fatty, sugary foods. Manufacturers eagerly feed that
addiction and have not offered enough healthful alternatives. Parents in
an effort to save time welcome fast and processed food into their menu
planning. We are all at fault.
Marketers frequently forget that consumers do not behave as if in a neat manufacturer developed category or product classification. In other
words, consumers who worry about their weight consider multiple product
categories and actions to deal with their obesity and diet concerns.
Their decisions are made every day deciding within and across the food,
beverage, diet, exercise, drug, and OTC categories. Marketers are going
to have to consider the whole consumer decision making process when
marketing their individual product.
What kind of government action will we see if obesity rates continue to go up? I expect much more mandated product labeling and menu
disclosure, tobacco like warnings on high fat and sugar foods, drastic
restrictions in advertising, taxes on calorie laden foods, financial
penalties in health coverage and co-pays, and a massive education
campaign by government and advocacy groups. Industry cannot go on just
talking a good game on what they do to promote sensible eating. The
facts are irrefutable that product marketers must do more to combat
obesity. It is a nice chance to have business and societal goals work in