Evolution of the
Obesity Pandemic

Ever wonder what caused the obesity pandemic?  

Hank Cardello, author of Stuffed offers this timeline: 

1953   C.A. Swanson & Sons, desperate to dispense of millions of overpurchased Thanksgiving turkeys, formulated the first frozen dinner and accompanying marketing scheme which pitched convenience and more free time (in exchange for taste and nutrition) 

1956 Ray Kroc started the McDonald’s chain.  You know the rest.   

Cardello asserts, “while I’m the first to admit that fast food and all of its offshoots played a big role in our current situation, for my money, the story of the Swanson TV dinner holds the real key to understanding why we’re so fat.  The TV dinner marked a lot of firsts: the first time we embraced en masse convenience over cuisine, the first time that it was better to be easy than to taste good, the first time that a prepared (frozen) meal was served ready to heat and eat at home.  Plus, maybe the most important first…the Swanson TV dinner marked the first time that the food industry marketing gimmick seduced what might have been out better judgment.  After all, the tv dinner was just way to boost a company’s struggling bottom line and cut its losses.  Yet it turned out to be exactly what a lot of people wanted.”   Marketing and slick packaging.   

Food Executives

Speaks to the bottom line, ‘consumers want more for less.’

The introduction of the two-liter soft drink bottle traded consumers up to a larger size. Consumers felt they were paying a little more, but receiving a better value.  It’s more likely that the 20-oz bottle that has become so prevalent in convenience stores and vending machines is the real culprit since it is sold as a single serve container.  Hence, large single serving size = more calories.  

Often, though, the changes were about size.  The bigger packages, bigger servings, and more of everything per container.  In the process, portion size got dangerously out of hand.  We went from buy one get one free to buy it by the dozens and save.  Unfortunately, this also dictated how much we ate!  We began to crave oversize entrees and 20-oz Mountain Dews, and the packaged goods companies were more than willing to oblige, ignoring the inherent risks behind a nation fueled by processed foods and gallons of soda.   

How did the bagel grew so big?

It’s a matter of simple college economics.  If you make a small bagel and it costs fifteen cents to make, and you sell it for fifty cents, you make thirty five cents a bel.  But if you make a much bigger one, your ingredients cost slightly more, certainly not double.  So you invest, say twenty or twenty two cents and you sell it for $1.30.  Your revenue is much higher, of course, but your profit also has more than doubled to over a dollar, and it certainly doesn’t take that much longer to bake a bigger bagel.   

The bagel story is a clear example of how the practice of ever-larger potions sizes have contributed to the nation’s expanding waistlines. 

America eats out more than ever before.  Endlessly busy lifestyles.  Mom and dad are working, then pick up the kids, after-school activities, who has time to cook.  Mostly, the time-pressed consumer eats high-calorie, low-nutrition fare.   

Combo meals 

A toxic alchemy results when our lack of table discipline collides with food executives marketing practices that encourage consumption of less healthy foods and beverages.   

And what has to change?  Nobody is thinking on the macro level.  Their models are outdated.  They’re missing a key ingredient, the welfare, and longevity of their valued customers.  

There are several dots to connect the food with an overburdened health care system that will eventually affect the well-being and economic status of every American, obese or note.   

How do I reconcile today’s profits with the future health of my customers? 

What Grocers Don't Want You to Know

Interestingly, the idea of the ‘super market’ actually began around the beginning of the great depression.  The idea was conceived by a Kroger assistant store manager.  His concept included very large, no-frills, self-service stores with low overhead and cash and carry policies. 

Michael Cullen theorized that offering extremely low prices for thousands of products under one roof would draw hoards of people and create high-volume turn over.   

Kroger rejected Mr. Cullen’s idea, so in 1930, he opened his own super market in an abandoned garage in Queens, NY.  It was called King Cullen.     

Today, his business philosophy; low prices and low operating expenses, remains the foundation of the grocery store business.   

Mr. Cullen’s foundational philosophy still stands today, but some things have evolved.  For instance, the architecture of grocery stores.  Savvy marketers use color, product positioning, music, and more to manipulate customers while luring them to higher-margin items.   

Packaged goods companies such as Kellogg’s and Oscar Mayer, pay for prime shelf space in every store; essentially leasing the best real estate to make sure their products have high-visibility and are easy to find.    

***Assuredly, the primary goal of grocers, food producers, and the myriad of associated marketers, is to make money.  Shareholders and executives are more concerned with their dividends and profits, than the well being and daily consumption of calories, fat, etc.  This points in one directionunhealthy food driven by creative marketing.   

These profits come at the expense of the health of their patrons.   

Note:  about organic products:

The government’s parameters developed under industry pressure that allow food sellers to label a product organic are now so broad they’re laughable.  And, we can’t always count on large organic food sellers to be completely honorable.  Even so, many intelligent people seem more than happy to pay a significant premium of up to 50 percent for food that’s labeled ‘organic.’  

The Solution to Permanent Weight Loss

(the inspiration for this website)

by Robin D. George

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