When it comes to food and drink, everything in moderation is my motto. Within the beverage industry, over the past 15 years, there has been a lateral shift among marketers to persuade consumers that they can and should drink their nutrients. One of the more popular brands, VitaminWater, started marketing in 1996 a vitamin laced drink in water, targeted towards adults who don’t drink enough water or get enough vitamins. Today, marketers tout beverages that can do everything including protect against disease, boost immunity, make you stay more alert, improve skin elasticity, increase collagen production, make your hair and nails grow longer, and so on and so forth. I was reading an interesting article in Forbes this month and there are numerous pages devoted to the functional nutrient category in food and beverage. What stands out the most in the articles is that marketing claims rarely match reality when actual scientific studies are conducted.
One of the best quotes was “When the marketing people decide what they want to say, they go try and find some evidence to back it up.” ("Energy Drinks," Forbes, June 7th, 2010). This opens a can of worms because research tends to be murky, given the FDA’s tolerance towards health claims on labels. That’s another topic, however. What intrigues me is that an entire industry of functional ingredients has developed by preying on a consumer’s insecurity that he/she doesn’t do enough or take good enough care of themselves and therefore need additional functional ingredients to be healthy. Everything in moderation should be OK. Ingesting a daily balance of fruits and vegetables, proteins and fats should provide the recommended daily allowance of vitamins and nutrients without the added calories of functional food and beverages. What do you think? I’m anxious to hear your comments!