Will we ever fully separate food myth from food reality?

July 27, 2009

The good news is people want to eat for health.

The good news is people want to eat for health. They’re ready to respond to the latest research study or the newest discovery about food benefits, especially when a nutritional component is somehow linked to treatment or prevention of a disease.

But is the natural ingestion of ‘beneficial’ ingredients a better path than taking medicines? Can consumers be reasonably certain such ‘findings’ aren’t tied to the promotion of special interests?  Or, even if studies are objective, that a nutrition plan based on specific foods would work for them?  Or, if taken in pill form from a bottle, that a package label is accurate? Or that conflicting research won’t come out at a later time that confuses consumers?

With so many open questions, is it any wonder that nutrition debates persist? Or that physicians jaded by the hype often arch their eyebrows at media reports of nutritional breakthroughs?  Our feeling at SupermarketGuru.com is that both media and marketers need to be more diligent in their announcements, or they run the risk of steering consumers off of a good-sense health course.

Although mostly untrained in the sciences, consumers are still able to take greater responsibility before jumping at the latest stories. We urge that they, along with retailers and CPG manufacturers, keep informed of trustworthy information on such web sites as the International Food Information Council (www.ific.org) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s and the National Agricultural Library’s Food and Nutrition Information Center (http://fnic.nal.usda.gov).  

In a nation pressed by harsh rises in childhood obesity and Type II diabetes, some of the best protections are a measured response to any alleged new health or nutritional claims, and access to a storehouse of credible information about the foods we eat.  Only then can responsible marketing by suppliers and stores, and smarter individual decision-making by consumers, help separate food myth from food reality.