Images of Health Rise in Popularity

Posted on 1/21/2008 by Julia Dudnik Stern | Printable Version | Comments (0)



People don't just want to save the environment, they want to save themselves. Corbis says the skyrocketing global weight-gain is driving more people to leading healthier lives. Surpassed only by environmentalism, "globesity" was at the top of the Corbis list of cultural trends affecting visual communications during 2007.

Though this subject has had ample press, this century marks a change in general consumer attitudes. After years of weight gain, resulting from increased fast-food consumption, longer commutes and hours spent in front of computers, people are recognizing the importance of physical activity and proper nutrition to avoiding life-threatening diseases.

Another contributing factor is the global spread of globesity. Contrary to popular belief, unhealthy weight is not insular to North America. In 2005, the World Health Organization found that more than 75% of men and women were overweight in countries as diverse as Egypt, Barbados, South Africa, Mexico and Argentina.

WHO data says that 1.2 billion people are currently overweight, including the average citizen of the U.S. and U.K. Another 300 million people worldwide are obese.

The European Union recently asked the region's industry to help fight obesity. Over 50% of European adults are overweight or obese, and many officials are advocating the need for healthier foods and stronger ad codes. An upcoming 2010 review will decide whether new laws are needed.

Advertising and publishing media are reflecting these changes in attitudes. According to Corbis, more images feature real people doing their best to stay in shape. This includes images of exercise, sports and low-impact activities, such as walking. The new look of health is intricately tied to happiness; it is less about specific subjects.

Images of people interacting with food are changing, too. Photos of children with candy or ice-cream have been replaced with children eating fruit or other healthier alternatives.

Advertisers, particularly those that market products that have been linked to health problems, are struggling to reposition their brands. PDN Pulse reports on one example: the U.S. ad campaign of the National Cattlemen's Beef Association. Ads running in Fitness and Cooking Light tout the protein content of lean beef, attempting to shift the focus away from the risk of stroke in case of overindulgence. The ads feature creatively photographed "beefskapes" that mimic natural landscapes.

The fight against globesity is likely to continue to influence stock imagery for some time. There may also be a backlash against certain types of previously popular image categories. For example, the big juicy hamburger that has long been an American staple is now mostly pictured in less-than-flattering contexts. In the long term, the trend may affect demand for images of high-fat, high-calorie foods, as well as technologies and activities linked to unhealthy lifestyles.



Copyright © 2008 Julia Dudnik Stern. The above article may not be copied, reproduced, excerpted or distributed in any manner without written permission from the author. All requests should be submitted to Selling Stock at 10319 Westlake Drive, Suite 162, Bethesda, MD 20817, phone 301-251-0720, e-mail: wvz@fpcubgbf.pbz

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