Diet Foods Fading in Favor of the Amorphous Health Halo

NPR reported yesterday on the continued decline of traditional diet foods, from Lean Cuisine to SlimFast.  For decades these foods were staples in the homes of so many American looking to cut calories, eat little fat, trim waste lines and step off the scale with a smile.

Yet these products - and diet programs in general - are no longer in vogue, with many consumers distrusting that they can actually help individuals achieve their health goals.  They are more likely to be viewed as a short-term fix (if they even work at all); anything but something that can be sustained over the long-term. 

Instead, companies are capitalizing on a demand for "healthy" (how generic), "natural" (even though there's really no definition for it), gluten-free (often full of calories and fat), and organic (even for foods like gummy bears and gatorade). 

There's a feeling among some experts that this too won't work.  Consumers looking for healthier foods are bombarded by confusing, mostly meaningless qualifiers that won't result in either short- or long-term health.  We run the risk of negatively portraying "healthy" diets as they become meaningless with so much conflicting information, nutrition claims and little that gets us back to more fruits, vegetables and whole grains.

Take a look at the diet foods next time you're in the supermarket.  What's left?  Are they touting a clean label or something with 25 ingredients, many of which you can't pronounce?  Which ones do you remember that may no longer be on the shelf? 

Check out this Slim Fast Commercial from 1986...Give us a Week, We'll Take of the Weight.