With “diabesity” becoming an epidemic and the cost of fighting conditions related to obesity rising by the minute, there seems to be little doubt that Americans have a problem with food—and not just any food—but the highly processed, high fat, high sugar foods that have become staples of our culture.
But is it possible that Americans are starting to “opt out” of the junk food culture?
Economic times are tough around the world, but so is the global health crisis, and several iconic junk food brands seem to be feeling the pinch.
A few weeks ago, snack maker Hostess shut its doors after a third of its workers went on strike and rejected a pay-cutting deal to help the company through bankruptcy. The work stoppage was the last straw for the maker of Twinkies and Ho Hos, but the company had already filed for bankruptcy and was already hurting. Were the company’s financial problems part of the broader recession? Almost certainly. But could it also be that consumers were making different choices—reaching for something other than Twinkies?
In October, McDonald’s reported its first sales slump in more than a decade. In a statement, McDonald’s said, “October’s sales results reflect the pervasive challenges of today’s marketplace.” Is it possible they were acknowledging not only a change in the global economy, but a change in people’s tastes as well? Only McDonald’s knows, but with the the launch of their first ever all-vegetarian restaurant, it certainly seems that the company is thinking about change.
Even the soda giants are riding the seas of change. PepsiCo reported a huge 14 percent drop in profits in the second quarter of 2012. And although Coca-Cola hasn’t released the same sort of numbers, the release of a new UK website called the Coca-Cola “Work it Out” calculator tells consumers how much exercise they would need to do to work off a single coke—walking for 30 minutes; yoga or pilates for 32 minutes; vacuuming for 51 minutes; or salsa dancing for 21 minutes.
The change may be glacially slow, but it seems to be coming; we can only hope that this is a trend that continues as consumers continue to vote for health with their forks and their wallets.