With government organizations like the FDA falling down on the job of protecting our nations health, there is a vast market opportunity for health based business models to meet the demand of concerned consumers. Since diet and exercise are considered by many to be the two primary keys to improving one’s health, it is no surprise that more and more health conscious business owners are focusing in on the food and recreation industries. Whether it is a company like Whole Foods grabbing up market share by meeting consumer demand for potentially better quality food, or a company, such as, Zombi Run, creating inventive iPhone apps to get couch potatoes off their rump and moving faster, it is easy to find a plethora of health conscious companies already flooding markets with their innovative products. In fact, visiting the gym to get your weekly, or even daily, workout may be a thing of the past, now that there is a movement towards the e-workout: a trend being pushed by a company like EMG Live Fitness. This company operates from a Netflix style business model to meet health driven consumer demand, providing the flexibility of streaming workout classes, anytime anywhere. But, are these types of health based businesses taking over the food and recreation industries? Well, in a nut shell, yes and no!
The reason it is so difficult to give a straight answer to the above question is because people have radically different concepts of what constitutes health–especially business owners competing for their own corner of the marketplace in the food industry. Companies that sell millions of bottles of soda, for example, imagine that all you have to do is call it diet and this automatically means that their soda is healthy. However, instead of people guzzling down diet soda getting skinny and fit, what we find is that many of them are pushing maximum density and acquiring type two diabetes in droves, despite the diet label. Now days, even doctors are starting to question if buzz words like “diet” and “low fat” is really leading consumers to a healthier food choice, seeing that the human body is composed of so much saturated fat. Many medical professionals are concerned that all these low fat diet food choices have not prevented the ongoing obesity epidemic from getting even worse. And yet, more evidence is emerging in the scientific literature, showing that diets higher in saturated fats, but lower in sugar and carbohydrates actually help people to lose weight and become less insulin resistant.
Another factor that consumers have to contend with today is the battle of companies versus consumers, when it comes to the question of product labeling. Todays consumers read labels and are more aware than ever before what chemicals are found in their products. Companies, those who do not like being thought of as slipping in harmful ingredients, but would rather be thought of as a “healthy choice”, spend mounds of time and money attempting to manipulate the government into allowing them to engage in questionable labeling practices. Words like “natural flavors” or legislative efforts that give companies the right to not put clear titles of substances like “Sweet Myx” on labels, ends up proving to be a controversial practice that leaves the consumer blindsided. All the while the consumer is not realizing they are being fed harmful ingredients because of unclear and potentially unethical product labeling practices. To make matters worse, even if things are labeled clearly, can you the consumer prove that the fruit you are eating is truly organic and not GMO? It seems that in the area of food, health based businesses really haven’t reached the point of actually taking over. Rather, what has occurred is that Americans are being pumped full of processed foods, foods that are overloaded with corn, soy, and sugar to such a degree that they leave consumers wondering if they are fit for human consumption.
In the area of recreation, it is perhaps more straight forward than in the area of food. We tend to discern from engaging in recreational activities, if the activity is harmful or beneficial to our body. there is no doubt that companies pushing genuine health based recreational products, apps, and services are making a huge impact on the recreation industry as a whole. From a medical standpoint, any amount of regular exercise helps to reduce the problem of insulin resistance, for example. So, one way to tell if health based recreation companies are truly taking the industry over, is if factors like insulin resistance actually go down as a result of people using their products, apps, and services. Of course, recreation tends to be a stress reducer for most people, so this factor makes it easier to see that companies involved in the recreation industry are improving people’s health, even if they don’t consider themselves to be health based businesses.
Modern technology is even playing a huge role in making improvements to older less healthy recreational activities. From better fitting shoes to wrist bands that help us count the number of calories burned, the informed health conscious consumer can point to tangible factors that demonstrate marked improvements to their weight and overall health. This again helps us to identify that in the area of recreation, health based companies have made serious strides to take over this particular industry. Consequently, from an objective approach to answering our original question, it appears that it is easier to objectively determine that health based businesses have taken over the recreation industry, but not so easy to discern if that is the case in terms of the food industry.

Mark Cord

wooblering@gmail.com