Antioxidant nutrients are so important as marketing tools that they constitute their own brand, say British experts on such questions. Apparently, up to 60% of consumers who see an antioxidant claim on a product label will buy it for that reason. Despite lack of evidence that additional antioxidants make people healthier (and may actually do some harm), these claims are so popular that food companies introduced nearly 300 new antioxidant-labeled products into U.S. supermarkets last year. I’ve been collecting choice examples: breakfast cereals, of course (they are always at the leading edge of nutritional marketing), but also jelly beans. The marketing has become so competitive that unprocessed fruits and vegetables have to get into the act. I’ve seen ads for blueberries, tomatoes, and artichokes advertising their high antioxidant content. Of course they have antioxidants. All fruits and vegetables contain antioxidants, and theirs may actually do some good.
Next public appearance
New Directions in the Fight Against Hunger and Malnutrition: A Festschrift in Honor of Per Pinstrup-Andersen. Cornell University, Statler Hotel Amphitheater. The conference begins at 7:30 a.m. with breakfast and ends with a reception the following day with remarks by professor Pinstrup-Andersen at 2:25 p.m. For the schedule and details, click here.
My joint contribution with Malden Nesheim is from 1:40-2:00 p.m. on “the internationalization of the obesity epidemic: the case of sugar-sweetened sodas.”