The marketing of calories: Why it is important to see beyond the energy contribution

We are very used to look at the calories and to count the same when we pretend not to get fat or lose weight and this has been used by the food industry highlighting the low energy content of many foods, something that makes us food consumers often of poor quality. Therefore, we must know the marketing of calories and not forget the importance of seeing beyond the energy contribution.

Calories highlighted as a marketing resource

The neuromarketing strategies that the industry employs are many and have as their ultimate goal to capture our attention and influence our purchasing decisions, using colors, drawings or messages that highlight aspects of a product as well as hide other characteristics of it.

In this way, calories tend to be a prominent feature in many light productsdiverting our attention from ingredients or other aspects of it.

For example, many cereal bars, yogurts or even cookies that are not highly caloric and that are promoted as ideal products to take care of the diet can highlight in their packaging the small caloric intake of the product, using messages such as “only 99 Kcal” .

With this message and our idea that the important thing is always not to go over the calories, there are many consumers who choose the products guided by this marketing strategy when in reality, it is always important to see beyond the energy contribution.

A bar of BiManán chocolate and orange stands out in its container that contributes “only 141 Kcal” and that “helps to lose weight”, however, if we look at its ingredients we will realize the poor quality of the product, as it contains added sugars in high proportions:

Milk proteins, fructose syrup , black chocolate coating (20%) * (cocoa paste, sugar , cocoa butter, milk fat, emulsifier: soy lecithin, natural vanilla flavor), fructo-oligosaccharide syrup , stabilizer: sorbitol, minerals (potassium citrate, sodium citrate, calcium carbonate, magnesium phosphate, zinc sulfate, elemental iron, manganese gluconate, copper citrate, potassium iodide and sodium selenite), safflower oil, beet fiber, emulsifier : lecithin, natural orange flavor, vitamins (C, E, niacin, A, calcium pantothenate, D, B1, B2, B6, B12, folic acid and biotin), glucose syrup, lactose, antioxidants: ascorbyl palmitate and alpha tocopherol, dye: paprika extract, emulsifier: soy lecithin.

Something similar can happen with other products such as, for example, the bread Thins de Bimbo that emphasizes that it has “only 99 Kcal per unit” but that inside it hides about 8% of added sugars.

In addition, it is not always enough to see the ingredients and nutritional information beyond the calories of a product, but also, visualize the size of the ration , since at least in my country many products highlight that they contain only 90 Kcal per serving but the ration is less than one unit, therefore, the product is not so light in reality.

The marketing of calories is very useful to the food industry but it can make us uncritical when choosing, and divert our attention from other aspects that are more important than calories such as the origin of the same or the nutrients, as well as the size of the ration, the ingredients and so on.

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