The ‘Stealth Health’ Way to Trimming Calories


Today it was revealed that a number of food companies have been quietly lowering the amount of salt in their products over the past few years. Icon brands such as V8 vegetable juice, Chef Boyardee canned pasta and Orville Redenbacher microwave popcorn have each shed more than 30% of their sodium content.  They got caught doing the right thing.

This Stealth Health approach offers a more enlightened way to ensure that consumers really do stick with changes intended to improve the nutrition of packaged foods and beverages. This is in contrast to the “stick” approach of taxing consumers or banning favorite ingredients to force changes in eating habits which rarely are adhered.

Why do I like Stealth Health? For one, food corporations have been deploying “stealth” tactics for many years to reduce costs.  Little by little, tweak by tweak, the iconic brands that we enjoy have all been tinkered with over the decades – all without us knowing so that we don’t abandon ship.

Stealth Health also avoids overtly depriving the public of the foods and beverages they enjoy. This is why diets fail. Instead of expecting consumers to abandon their favorite foods, improving the nutrition and/or reducing calories below the radar does not upset this delicate balance.

And, it sidesteps consumer suspicions that if a food is “healthy” it can’t taste good (witness cereals that have tasted like cardboard or the first soy hot dogs). Virtually every piece of research I have encountered confirms that, for foods that are typically more indulgent, the consumer believes that making these foods more healthy results in poorer taste.

For a half century, the food industry has quietly produced 29% more calories per person to eat every day.  It’s time to reverse that trend in the same way – quietly. Obesity will not be solved overnight, but by taking cues from the Salt Wars, food companies now have the blueprint on how to secretly perform nutritional surgery on their brands and go about taking the calories out without compromising their profits.

9 Responses to “The ‘Stealth Health’ Way to Trimming Calories”

  1. Dave says:

    I enjoy your big-picture view of the food industry.
    In many cases it is relatively refreshing to read about possible
    solutions that actually make sense, don’t over-regulate the system,
    and rely on consumer based decisions. I think much of our problems in
    nutrition come from poor decisions, but having corporations revert back
    to “less dense” food will help.

  2. Kate says:

    Hank, stumbled across your blog and am I glad I did. Your perspective on Stealth Health is brilliant. If food companies take responsibility for their part in decreasing calories, it’s an encouraging step and support system in helping consumers consciously do the same. I’ve been looking for tips on how to manage restaurant calories better. The book Obesity Free Forever
    has been really helpful and talks about some of the things you’re mentioning here. The author Georgine Collins is a former nurse and is on the same page as you are. Important work. Thanks!

  3. Thank you for your comments. I look forward to checking out the book.

  4. Kate says:

    Hank, thanks! The correct spelling of the author of Obesity Free Forever is Georgene CollinsThank you for posting. Kate

  5. Thanks for providing Georgene’s name.

  6. Erlene Huell says:

    I have just recently started my blog and am really enjoying leaving comments on my favorite blogs 😉 Bookmark for sure.

  7. On the whole, I’m not awfully keen on politics in general – but, now and again all of us have to pay attention. There are a few very good issues raised here, and I am taking notice – thank you.

  8. nose huggie review says:

    Hank, thanks! The correct spelling of the author of Obesity Free Forever is Georgene CollinsThank you for posting.

  9. Bryan says:

    Basically, these are those foods which actually subtract the calories from you and this makes them essential for those who are looking at weight loss.

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