Health Fads Effects on Consumption Patterns

Health fads are on a rise partly because unhealthy lifestyles continue to attract widespread media attention. The increase in the incidence of lifestyle-related diseases or conditions has contributed to the increase in the awareness about living healthy. In an effort to avoid falling a victim of such health problems, people are embracing the consumption of foods that are deemed nutritionally valuable. With the rise in the rates of diseases and conditions such as obesity, consumers have become aware of the need to observe dietary balancing. For instance, many Americans show awareness about the adverse effects of consuming genetically modified foods. As a result, the increased knowledge about the healthy living coupled with a gap in the information on healthy foods has opened a window for quacks and masqueraders to assume a dominant role to mislead the public. Being popularly known as health fads, many questionable sources of information on health have increased. However, the sources of data have remained questionable. However, some pieces of information have cited scientific studies to support or oppose the consumption of given foods in various news articles. The present paper argues that health fads influence consumption patterns by affecting the demand for various products or treatments.

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Effects of Health Fads on Consumption Patterns

Health fads have a number of effects on consumption behaviors. While evaluating how they influence consumption patterns, Gallagher (2016) has based his observations on the study by Cambridge University. It has raised questions on the role of good cholesterol in the human body. The findings of the research have gone against the popular perception that good cholesterol being acquired through eating fish, olive oil, and nuts. Up to this point, it means that previous studies have supported the consumption of products rich in good cholesterol as a measure of lowering the chances of suffering from heart-related illnesses. Given the gravity of heart problems, many people are likely to embrace any idea that leads to lowering the chances of being a victim. With the research findings by Cambridge, the observation by Gallagher (2016) supports the following idea. The previous knowledge was questionable hence, more of a fad than the scientific notion. As a health fad, the support for consuming the mentioned products to reduce the risk of heart disease must have influenced some people to prefer their consumption. 

Based on  Cambridge study, some individuals with a high amount of good cholesterol were at a bigger risk of developing heart disease than those ones with higher levels of bad cholesterol. With such findings, the following information is emerging. Good cholesterol was not a predictor of the low risk of heart diseases. Given that efforts were organized to increase the production of drugs to make the level of good cholesterol higher, further questions appear. They are related to the reliance on the research in the development and production of drugs being sold to people. In essence, drugs that target the increase of HDL (good cholesterol) are not effective. Yet, the narcotics have been sold extensively.  It is a clear indication of using fads to influence consumption habits. 

However, the research at Cambridge University held that HDL was a predictive tool of heart disease although its significance came under doubt. In addition, researchers have supported carrying out additional studies to understand the connection between cholesterol and heart diseases.  If the scientific research is inconclusive as shown from the research in Cambridge, then the field of healthy living is shrouded in ambiguities. Although being informative than mere fads, concerns persist. 

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The costs of healthcare continue to soar each passing day. Many countries such as the United States spend a big percentage of their Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in the health sector. The statistics indicate that the elderly segment of the population incurs more expenses compared to younger generations. Citing Deloitte, Marak (2016) has observed that, in 2013, the United States spent 17.7% of its GDP on healthcare (Marak, 2016). The industry grew by almost five percent in 2014; and it was expected to have risen to 17.9% by 2018 (Marak, 2016). One of the effects of the health fads is a rise in the cost of healthcare. The misleading information contributes to the illness problem rather than solving it by affecting the choices people make on consumption goods.

Although elderly citizens enjoy an access to Medicare, the burden attributable to medical expenses continues to rise. Marak (2016) has noted that consumers pay big percentage of high insurance premiums besides paying for healthcare services from their pockets. The costs increase with age. The reason is related to the fact that during such stages in life, chronic conditions are prevalent. Based on such circumstances, cheaper alternatives of care often prove attractive. That is why health fads have emerged to play an influential role in influencing consumption patterns.

It is evident that each day consumers spend millions of money to buy products deemed healthy without the adequate information on the nutritional benefits of items. The reason for such expenditures is unsolicited and fraudulent marketing (Marak, 2016). In other words, marketers are using uncouth methods to tap into the increasing demand for health foods. Hence, producers only need to liaise with questionable health professionals and advertise the product as healthy to the public. Although such foods might not have the dramatized effect, they influence the buying habits of users in addition to posing a danger of harming their health. 

Affected Areas

Health fads have covered various aspects of life. One of such ones is weight loss. It is evident that a lot of information exists showing negative effects of being overweight or obese (Amidor, 2013). In addition, many women believe that being slim is fashionable. As a result, the products that contribute or lead to weight loss are on a high demand globally. Unprofessional marketers also have such information. Consequently, they look for the ways to benefit from the existing market by taking advantage of naive consumers. Given that users prefer cheap and easily available products, smart and cunning marketers can make benefits by providing products disguised as healthy (Danova, 2014). Thus, it is not surprising that many foods that are portrayed as capable of reducing weight continue flooding the market. The downside is that if used consistently and for long periods users face a risk of suffering adverse effects (Danova, 2014). Given the absence of a scientific proof of the work of such products, applying the items is a healthy challenge. However, the promise that comes with the foods is so encouraging such that users are influenced into buying them.

Nutritional supplements form another category of products that are bought to influence health living. Lutz (2016) has noted that a label on a food item that indicates natural, healthy and related words does not translate into being ideal or effective. Such supplements pose the problems as side effects as well being likely to undermine the performance of other products such as medications. Despite the low level of knowledge that people exhibit, it is surprising that users buy and consume the foods without consulting physicians or experts (Lutz, 2016). Although some nutritional supplements are effective, they might not be useful to every person. However, marketers take advantage of the inadequate knowledge to misguide the public into buying such products just for the sake of earning profits.  

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Miracle cures have also emerged to play a dominant role towards enhancing healthy living. This type of items target individuals who are suffering from difficult health conditions such as cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, HIV, and diabetes (Marak, 2016). In practice, the persons who have been diagnosed with the above conditions are more likely to explore promising cures, thus they might end up with the products that offer miracle treatment.  

Apart from cancer and diabetes cures, arthritis remedies are also bandied around. The nature of the condition allows quacks or conmen to deceive victims with ease (Marak, 2016). For instance, it is common for a patient to feel better after eating an unproven and ineffective drug or substance as a cure for the disease. The reason is that the symptoms of the illnesses come and disappear depending on the stage of advancement (Marak, 2016). Given the nature of the disease, allegations that certain treatments such as radiations, medicinal herbs, chemicals or oils cure the condition exist with a sole objective of misleading unsuspecting and innocent people into purchasing the items. Although some of the proposed products might not be harmful to consumers, they are often costly. Such foods also heavily rely on individual testimonies, which are not the guarantees (Marak, 2016). Although many forms of arthritis are incurable, fads on cures of the disease are often erroneous. Their intentions are to secure funds for producers of the supposed treatment products. By promising recovery, health fads on the cure of the condition influence consumption patterns since victims buy unproven foods in an effort to overcome the illness.

The study carried out by Nielsen Global Health and Wellness in 2014 has found that the members from the generation Z were more enlightened about healthy ways of life compared to their parents (“Health and Wellness in America,” 2014). Hence, they had more information about food content. Given that the study has found out the generation was willing to spend more on healthy goods, then marketers or food outlets were more likely to explore ways of influencing what they could buy by using both orthodox and unorthodox means. Similarly, 32% of millennial would spend more on healthy products (“Health and Wellness in America,” 2014). The implication is that sellers who manage to manipulate their products can rely on health fads to increase their sales. Another finding of the Nielsen study was that healthy foods appealed to consumers more than did unhealthy ones. Specifically, the users looked for functional products that would reduce their weight (“Health and Wellness in America,” 2014). It is possible for outlets to label goods as health to influence customer choices, as a result.

Regarding fad diets that promise weight loss with a minimal effort, the caution should be exercised they are tempting yet suspicious. As a matter of medical practice, the only way to attain the reduced weight is altering lifestyles completely. Such ones include adopting a healthy diet and practicing regular exercises. It is evident that making such changes remains difficult and long-lasting. On the contrary, diet fads promise a weight loss in few days. The ease of getting results as promised is tempting, and many people are likely to embrace them.

Altered metabolism is another type of diet fads. Given that many of them demand some changes in the structure of food consumption, the chances of disrupting the natural metabolism process are high (Amidor, 2013). Often, the body’s natural metabolism functioning is efficient in influencing consumption patterns. The efforts to interfere into the process are likely to have a negative effect on the body. Although the diet fads seem unhealthy based on the above account, the following fact is evident. The individuals interested in changing a given aspect of their body are likely to be influenced. 

Sellers of consumables have also exploited some deficiencies in a nutritional value of products. Thus, it is common to find fads prohibiting people from eating certain types of products. For instance, diet fads have advised individuals to lower their intake of carbohydrates. Taking the advice seriously is likely to expose people to nutritional deficiencies since such goods contribute to significant nutrients needed in the body. In such a state, those ones affected might show signs of fatigue and in some cases be unable to carry out their routine activities. For example, diet fads that advise people against consuming fatty products might discourage users from buying fish, nuts, meat, and similar goods. Therefore, they lead such people to fat deficiencies.  

Muscle and hair losses have also been targeted by diet fads. For instance, the fads about the harmful effects on the consumption of proteins discourage people from buying protein-rich products. As a result, such individuals end up avoiding the use of protein foods. The loss of memory has also bothered many people (“Health and Wellness in America,” 2014). As people get older, they lose their ability to hear perfectly. Often, nobody likes the idea of losing their hearing ability. As a result, any promise of slowing the process of missing it is a welcome idea. Thus, it is not surprising that many products such as smart pills, brain retraining, and amalgam dental fillings are common. However, the effectiveness of such items remains contestable. Regardless, the sponsors of fads manage to interfere with the consumption patterns of individuals interested in retaining their hearing abilities. 

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Overcoming Health Fads

Given the increasing incidence of health living fads, efforts must be made to overcome them. One such measure is that people need to be on the lookout for products that provide guarantees. In practice, each person is unique. Even if it is possible to face the similar health issues, their responses to treatment and their bodily requirements might differ. Consequently, individuals should exercise caution against purchasing products that guarantee outright results.

Secondly, it is noted that foods that claim effectiveness but lack a scientific backing should be avoided. From the paper, it has become apparent that not even the research is certain on handling healthy conditions. However, the study provides a basis for the effectiveness of a product (“Health and Wellness in America,” 2014). In this regard, consumers need to evaluate the veracity of the information they get or consult physicians before buying goods such as nutritional supplements.  

Another aspect to monitor is the marketing of the food. Although many products are sold virtually, some of them are not legit (Danova, 2014). In such cases, it is upon the consumer to establish the legitimacy of foods before buying them. In this regard, individuals should practice caution before purchasing goods. In addition, consumers need to look for outright lies such as promises to lose weight without any form of exercise or changes in their diet. Further, sellers that guarantee quick breakthroughs are more likely to be liars out to deceive gullible persons. 

Referring to an administrative response is also helpful in understanding how to tackle the problem. In the USA, the Food and Drug Administration has demanded mandatory counts of menu calories for chain restaurants that had more than twenty facility locations (Marak, 2016). As a result, it has become possible for users to evaluate the nutritional composition of what they were taking. In addition, each fast-food outlet provides the nutritional information on their foods over their websites. Regardless of the above measures, debates persist on the use of secret ingredients (“Health and Wellness in America,” 2014). Thus, it did not come as a surprise that restaurants such as Subway and Chipotle were subject to journalistic investigations. Based on the reports, Chipotle relied on genetically modified oil, corn, and other ingredients. In addition, the investigators have found out that, in 2014, the Subway eliminated yoga mat called was used increase the pliable feature of bread (“Health and Wellness in America,” 2014). Based on the above revelations, leading restaurants or food outlets have a way of tapping into the craze towards healthy living by cheating that the products that they sell meet expected standards. On this basis, it is held that healthy fads influence consumption patterns.

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Consumer Choice: A Paradox

Consumer choice is viewed as paradoxical. At present, the world is full of infinite options. Simple searchers on the Internet or physical markets yield a variety of products. As a result, marketers are forced to explore some ways of convincing the customer to select their foods. Based on neoclassical economics, consumer choice is a function of a hierarchy of effects that persists as a result of rigid cognitive systems (Lutz, 2016). In practice, users develop the needs before carrying out the research on product availability. Consumers are engaged in a delicate balancing act as they attempt to evaluate the benefits and drawbacks of their purchases. Although many choices are desirable, a big number of consumers are unable to process all the information and reach a positive decision (Lutz, 2016). Given the problem of reaching a wise decision because of the big data availability, customers resort to popularity stories about target products. As a result, it is possible that users end up buying foods that they have a minimal understanding. Given that marketers clearly understand the predicament about customers, they explore all sorts of methods to woo them into buying their items. One of the ways is to create and promote fads about certain goods such as food and health accessories. As a result, marketers are able to sponsor fads, which they use to sway the perception of consumers about items.

Some difficulties in the processing of information of products are often seen among shoppers. For example, a consumer who walks into a supermarket to buy a food and then encounters an array of alternatives is likely to be distracted. In such circumstances, some customers find themselves walking around without picking an item for long as they try to figure out what to do. In the end, the user reaches a decision to choose one of the options based on perceptions, prices or other factors being not necessarily critical in selecting good. In the end, it might be the imagination of the consumer who carries the day rather than factual or informed decision-making.

The rise of health fads has coincided with the increase in the incidence of lifestyle diseases. The development has witnessed an increase in reports about the link between ways of life and the emergence of the life-threatening illnesses. As a result, many people are now interested in foods or treatment plans that are likely to prolong their lives or eliminate the chances of suffering from such health complications. In other words, the demand for health products is on the rise. In the wave of the move towards the prevalence for healthy products, deceitful marketers and producers have devised schemes to sell their items by labeling them as healthy ones or capable of treating given ailments. The shift has led to the creation and perpetuation of health fades which have an impact on the consumption habits of consumers.

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