Super foods – the great marketing deception
Super foods – the great marketing deception
If you are interested in improving your lifestyle, specifically in achieving healthy eating habits, it is safe to conclude that you have met the flamboyant term “super food” at least once. The concept behind the term is supposed to mean a type of food (usually fruits or vegetables) with exceptional benefits that not only add to the consumer’s well being, but may also be used to treat medical conditions. Although there are certainly respectable researches, conducted on many of the so called “super foods” that prove the existence of antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and other qualities, they cannot be applied as a substitute for medical treatment.

How did it all start?

During the very beginning of the past century bananas had already lost their appeal as an exotic item and became just another fruit on the market. Consumers were significantly less interested in buying bananas and thus sales went low. The US company United Fruit Co. launched a marketing campaign which aimed to portray the yellow fruit as extremely healthy and succeeded. Diet specialists and medical professionals were hired to confirm that bananas are naturally protected from all kinds of germs and can heal certain types of diseases. The craze went so far that bananas were even applied as a medicine for celiac disease. Children, diagnosed with this condition, were put on a strict regime, consisting of bananas and milk and their symptoms significantly lessened. Today we know that this was due to the lack of gluten in the diet and sadly there is no known cure for celiac disease.

Modern influence

The term “super food” was coined in the 1990’s as a way to describe a food with immense health benefits. As a result the market was flooded with different kinds of products, containing or entirely based on ingredients, labeled as super foods. The consumption numbers naturally went higher and with some fluctuations over the years have remained such ever since. Evidence for this is the mere fact that in 2015 the amount of products that contain the term “super food” went up with 36%. Research shows that now more than ever people want to spend their money on health maintenance and advertising companies are taking full advantage of this preference. Diets, based on “super food” consumption are gaining more and more popularity.

The voice of reason

Back in 2007 the European Food Information Council forbade the use of this term in any advertising campaign due its ability to create unrealistic expectations about the actual qualities of the marketed products. Sadly, the same cannot be said about the US ad restricting policy. Many medical professionals and nutrition specialists have spoken against the label “super food”, describing it as meaningless and potentially dangerous. The first, obvious threat for consumers who are too trusting, is replacing prescribed medications with super food products. The second has to do with restricting the diet to only the said types of food which can lead to serious health implications.
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