The Candy Community Has a Health Fit

bY Renee Marisa Covino
Confectionery vendors are finding it makes sense — and cents — to market treats catering to consumer health and diet trends. But is this the shape of candy’s future?
Fixing something that’s not broken doesn’t make good business sense. But don’t even try preaching the benefits of the status quo to Atlanta-based Innovative Candy Concepts. In just a few short years, the company has become known in the confection industry for its powerful tasting, wildly marketed (initially with a chimp) novelty candy for kids. In fact, praise and distribution of Innovative’s kid candy brands, Too Tarts and Suck Ups, has spread like wildfire. So it would be smart to keep things just as they are — right?
Wrong, according to president Armand Hammer. On July 1, the company will usher in a bold business move: a completely re-vamped SmartChoice product line with no refined sugar, a full serving of juice in each serving, and 50 to 60 percent fewer calories. What’s truly brazen is that this is neither a test nor a line extension. This is the line, aptly labeled Too Tarts SmartChoice.
But Hammer isn’t shaking things up just for kicks. Obesity, diabetes and a low-carb lifestyle are just three of the multitude of health/diet issues that appear daily in the media, and they’re weighing heavily on consumers’ minds. Scary statistics show up in the newspaper on a regular basis, such as the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s claim that 64 percent of Americans are overweight and 31 percent are obese. At the current rate, the governmental agency projects 40 percent of the population will be obese by 2010.
It has also been reported that by 2020, one in five dollars spent on health care will be linked to obesity-related complications; currently, 400,000 preventable deaths a year can be traced back to extra girth, second only to smoking, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Food manufacturers, restaurants and now the confection industry have all been developing a greater sense of responsibility about addressing these and other so-called epidemics. In fact, Hammer says his own purposefully bold step springs from his personal convictions.
“It became a huge issue for me to come back and reformulate these candy products to be a major leap healthier,” says Hammer. “We are the first candy company in the world to do this to the entire line, but we felt like there was so much we could do to positively help the industry and the consumer.”
For starters, Innovative Candy Concepts has teamed up with the American Diabetes Association. “We are now one of the top sponsors to raise the awareness level as well as money for diabetes prevention and education. All of our products will carry their logo,” explains Hammer.
Surprisingly, Innovative Candy Concepts will not be raising its prices. “We’re putting this entire conversion on our own shoulders. That’s how much I believe in what we’re doing,” says Hammer, who adds that he got unanimous support from company employees. “As long as we can still make a profit, the health awareness we create will make up for it megafold.”
Low-Carb Living
Nearly 60 million U.S. adults are currently controlling their intake of carbohydrates, according to a recent study from The Valen Group, a health and wellness strategy consulting firm based in Cincinnati.
The new LowCarbiz Magazine reports that the low-carb lifestyle is more popular in big metropolitan cities, especially those on the two coasts, than in the Midwestern "breadbasket." The publication ranked the Top 10 low-carb cities as:
1. Dallas/Fort Worth
2. Indianapolis
3. Las Vegas
4. Los Angeles
5. Miami
6. New York
7. Phoenix
8. Portland, Ore.
9. San Francisco
10. Seattle
Responsible consumption
The company’s revamped kids’ line will join its low-carb adult line, called Sinfully Delicious. When the adult candies were introduced a year ago, low-carb wasn’t yet part of the lingo, so the products were marketed as simply a healthier line of candy. Now, Sinfully Delicious and SmartChoice share a common goal of promoting what Hammer refers to as more responsible candy consumption.
While no other existing candy manufacturer has changed its entire line for health reasons, most have taken on the health angle in some way. And the momentum continues to build. For 2003, 105 no-carb/low-carb candies were introduced to the market according to ProductScan Online, a new product database maintained by Naples, N.Y.-based Marketing Intelligence Service. By mid-April 2004, 76 new SKUs had already been rolled out. Also in 2003, 352 no-sugar/low-sugar candies were launched; by mid-April 2004, 109 new candidates had already joined this category.
This year’s new product introductions come from both established and new companies across the confectionery span, but they do have one thing in common: product packaging that heavily touts “low” benefits, typically sugar and/or carbs and/or net carbs. Here’s just a small sampling of what’s available.
• Breakthrough Engineered Nutrition, Largo, Fla. — Carb Slim Candy Bites come in a new Mint Cookie Crunch variety. The 1.5-ounce boxes are flagged “0 sugar carbs — Chocolate flavor crisps in creamy mint & milk chocolate — Sweetened with Splenda — Candy bites for the low-carb lifestyle!”
• Jakks Pacific Inc., Malibu, Calif. — Tongue Tape Dissolvable Tongue Strips proclaim that they are “sugar-free and calorie-free candy-flavored” in Sour Grape, Sour Apple, Sour Orange, Sour Lemon, Sour Cherry, and Sour Raspberry varieties. The new “tongue-twisting, eye-squinching sour flavors” are sold in a 24-count dispenser with a $1.99 suggested retail price.
• Asher Candy Co., an affiliate of Sherwood Brands, Souderton, Pa. — The new Asher’s Grab ‘n Go line for 2004 includes Sugar Free Low Carbs! Fine Quality Chocolates in four-ounce laminate rack display bags. The Mini Peanut Butter Cups are flagged “Only 0.47g net effective carbs per piece.” Many other varieties are offered, each with a suggested retail price of $3.99 per bag. The net effective carbs per piece are listed on each variety.
Sugar-free chocolates were originally added to Asher’s chocolates line in the 1970s, offering diabetics a substitute for what they otherwise couldn’t indulge in. But a few years ago the company took notice of the public’s interest in Atkins’ style diets, and realized it already had a winner: Asher’s sugar-free chocolates have only 0.7 to 1.5 net carbs per serving. So in 2002, Asher changed the packaging to include bright-yellow lettering specifying the low carb content. After that, the company saw a triple-digit sales increase, and it will produce up to 3.5 million pounds of sugar-free, low-carb chocolate in 2004, according to Jeff Asher, vice president of sales and marketing.
• Unilever Bestfoods North America, an affiliate of Unilever, Englewood Cliffs, N.J. — New Carb Options Snack Bars are offered in Chocolate Chip Brownie, Chocolate Peanut, and Cinnamon Delight flavors, with six or fewer grams of net carbs per serving. The wrapper for the Chocolate Peanut version is tagged “For use as part of a low carb diet! — 2g carbs.” Suggested retail prices range from $2.49 to $3.99.
• Clif Bar, Berkeley, Calif. — Luna Glow is touted as a new Low Carb Choice for Women Snack Bar “with a light and fluffy texture that separates it from the other heavier bars on the market.” At a suggested retail price of $1.29 to $1.39, the trans fat-free bar is presented in a 1.2-ounce wrapper and contains eight grams of protein and 23 vitamins and minerals. Each flavor features a layer of sugar-free caramel and a coating of either milk chocolate, dark fudge chocolate or strawberry yogurt.
• Russell Stover Candies, Kansas City, Mo. — Russell Stover Low Carb Candy has not rested on its laurels. New products are continually rolling out, including bagged candies (3.5 ounces) now being offered in Chocolate Covered Peanuts (0.1 net carbs per piece), Chocolate Covered Almonds (0.2 net carbs per piece), and Peanut Butter Crunch (0.3 net carbs per piece — individually wrapped) varieties. Single-serve candy in two-count wrappers is available in Milk Chocolate and Almond Medallions, Solid Milk Chocolate Medallions, and Solid Dark Chocolate Medallions (all 0.8 ounces with 0.3 net carbs per piece), and Chocolate Wafers (one ounce with 0.8 net carbs per piece). Low-carb seasonal gift items are available as well.
All of the Russell Stover products are tagged “For low carb diets — Splenda,” and have zero sugar carbs. Suggested retail prices are $2.99 for bagged candies, $7.99 for the assorted chocolates box and $8.99 for a heart-shaped gift item for Valentine’s Day.
The company is proud to have been “very reactive to the success of the low-carb and sugar-free climate,” says Mark Frame, senior vice president of sales. “Our company started out with nine products during our launch period, and less than eight months later, we have over 75 low-carb products on shelf. Sugar-free products continue to grow at a healthy rate too.”
Russell Stover has been recognized as one of the first chocolate companies to hop on the low-carb bandwagon. More recently, it has been joined by all three major chocolate companies — Hershey, Masterfoods and Nestlé — in launching better-for-you candy, including low-carb varieties (see story on page 105).
Will it fade?
But what if the whole concept of health-conscious candy is a passing fad, as some nutrition experts believe? Eric Bost, USDA undersecretary for food, nutrition and consumer services, contends that the low-carb diet craze in particular will fizzle out just as the low-fat wave of the ‘90s did. He says the problem with low-carb is that consumers tend to overdo it, just as they did with low-fat diets, leaving them more overweight than ever. That’s why the USDA emphasizes moving toward a healthier lifestyle by making better choices, controlling portions and exercising, rather than dieting, Bost adds.
John Stanton, professor of food marketing at St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia, believes that all food marketers, including candy manufacturers, should carefully consider how they enter the low-carb niche, as well as how they capitalize on it.
“I think concern for weight control is important and shouldn’t be overlooked, but that does not mean the industry should make every product low in carbohydrates or make every advertising tagline ‘low-carb,’” Stanton says. “Obesity and weight management will be around for a long time, but the solution will be lifelong trends, not diet fads. If the food industry fails to take a leadership role in helping Americans eliminate our obesity epidemic, then making more low-carb food will be just as unsuccessful as the low-fat foods were before it.”
Stanton adds, “The challenge for leadership is to let the company take advantage of short-term opportunities while staying focused on the long-term reasons why people buy food.”
These theories have not escaped the confectionery and snack companies that are marketing low-carb options. Many say they are just giving consumers the products that they really want, for now, and that they also try to stress balance and moderation.
“Our philosophy is balanced nutrition,” says Elizabeth Lombardi, assistant brand manager for Luna Glow. “We are not a low-carb company, nor will our product portfolio dictate that. We’re a very active company — that’s our root. Luna Glow is just one option that addresses a specific segment’s needs. We will continue to monitor it and see how consumers’ needs change.”
Jelly Belly Candy Co., Fairfield, Calif., says that while it has not reduced what it offers consumers in its regular candy lines, it has broadened its range of sugar-free items and changed the sugar substitute formulation in other products, in response to consumer interest in low-carb diets and lower-calorie foods. Nevertheless, the company is aware that “a big question is where the low-carb dieters will be three years from now, and, of course, they could be ancient history,” says Pete Healy, vice president of marketing. “On the other hand, as manufacturers and marketers, we want to respond to consumer desires wherever we can with great-tasting candy, and so that’s exactly what we’re doing.
Supporting data
At the moment, of course, the low-carb trend’s profit potential is backed up with considerable data. Last year, bread sales were down 1.1 percent, while low-carb products racked up $1.2 billion in sales, reports Information Resources Inc. And according to a survey by The Valen Group, Cincinnati, 59 million U.S. adults are controlling their intake of carbohydrates; more than 40 million others said they were considering a low-carb diet in the next 12 months. Collectively, those figures are fast approaching half of all U.S. adults, according to Valen, a health and wellness strategy consulting firm for Fortune 500 companies.
“There are still huge opportunities to be a pioneer in this category because demand is outstripping supply,” says chief executive officer Gus Valen, who claims the key to correctly strategizing new products is differentiation. “Is there innovation you can bundle to have better-tasting items or better price points? Can you lead efforts in education so your brand is known as the leader in this low-carb revolution?”
And perhaps most importantly: Can companies resist the temptation to latch onto the hype, and look beneath the surface instead to address real health concerns? Already some are doing just that. Aside from low-carb targeting, a number of marketers are making a distinction between low-sugar and diabetes-related options — a strategy that works well on its own, as well as providing a backup in case the low-carb fad does go by the wayside.
There are currently 150 million diabetics worldwide, and the World Health Organization predicts that total will grow to 300 million by 2025.
“Even if low-carb isn’t there into the future, look at the number of diabetics that are going off the chart globally and in the U.S.,” says Valen. “Most low-carb products can be repositioned as diabetic products, so that’s another sustaining element to it.”
Other industry experts say that low-carb products will make it easier for diabetics to control their diets while giving them access to foods that formerly were restricted.
“People read labels these days,” says Frame. “The most important thing that we believe low-carb and sugar-free products have accomplished is that they have brought consumers back to the candy category. People with diabetes now have a great-tasting alternative to regular candy.”
Guylian Chocolates, Engle-wood Cliffs, N.J., understands that logic well. For many years, the chocolatier put out a no-sugar-added chocolate bar that now fits the bill for a low-carb bar.
“It was actually a consumer who told me we already had a low-net effect carb bar,” says Guylian president Leslie Coopersmith. “Even before we labeled it as such, we clearly saw a surge in sales.”
Even if the low-carb diet fad were to fade, says Coopersmith, there would still be a market for this type of product. “A diabetic is a very well-educated consumer, reads labels, and knows exactly what needs to be purchased for a treat; these consumers realize that low-net effect carbs exist when sugar substitutes are used. As for our version, it had legs before the low-carb trend. It will certainly have legs after.”
Not everyone is convinced of the need for more healthful candy products, however. In fact, when it comes right down to it, is it even the manufacturers’ responsibility to help moderate consumer intake of carbs, fat, sugar and calories?
“We have to be concerned for what’s happening with obesity and other health issues, which is why we’re taking steps to offer options,” says Guylian’s Coopersmith. “But at the end of the day, the ultimate person responsible for their own health and wellness is the consumer. I eat chocolate every day of my life, but I don’t sit and do nothing all day long. I have balance in my life, and that’s what’s really necessary.”
Adds Jelly Belly’s Healy, “It has to come down to all of us as consumers making choices that are right for ourselves and our families. Otherwise, we risk moving toward a system where some central authority dictates what we ought to be eating, and that’s very scary.”
Moderation urged
The stance of the National Confectioners Association is that “candy and chocolate are treats, snacks or desserts. The key to maintaining a balanced diet and appropriate weight with confections, as with all foods, is to consume them in moderation, as part of an active lifestyle.”
The NCA also maintains that “with confectionery contributing less than 2 percent of the average child’s and adult’s daily calories, according to USDA data, confectionery can add a great deal of enjoyment without being a major source of calories.”
With the help of its new communications firm, Fleishman-Hillard Inc., the NCA is developing “meaningful partnerships with health that will help to extend our industry messages,” explains Susan Smith, media spokesperson. “These include health professionals, diet programs and school-based partnerships.”
The trade association is planning to work with national parenting, health, nutritional and physical fitness organizations to develop a brochure called “Helping Parents Talk to their Kids,” designed to guide parents through what is often a difficult discussion with their children about body image, nutrition and the role of physical activity, according to Smith. Efforts like this are meant to put treats in their proper perspective, even the full-sugar versions.
With all the current hype about low-sugar and low-carb candy products, what the industry doesn’t want is for consumers to develop the misconception that “regular” candy is unhealthy. Once again, experts say it all comes down to balance and moderation — and getting that message out to the consumer.
“Healthier” candy definitely has legs to stand on, says Smith, as does “the wide variety of candy products available to consumers. There is a place for many different kinds of confections, depending on what consumers want.”
In fact, that’s why Washington-based Seattle Chocolates is positioning its Skinny Truffles, a new line of low-carbohydrate truffles with a European chocolate taste profile, with a distinct purpose for a distinct moment in time.
“The line is for consumers when they’re dieting or when they’re diabetics,” says CEO Jean Thompson. “Then when they lose weight and go off the diet, they can go back to eating in moderation, treating themselves to one or two pieces. Moderation is what it’s all about. In fact, we’ve always tried to tout that as the motivation behind eating finer pieces of chocolate.”
Even Hammer, who no longer manufactures candy with sugar, believes moderation is the key to the industry. Not surprisingly, though, he foresees bold change in the next decade with better-tasting, high-tech sweeteners, natural or artificial or a combination of both.
“There are always going to be sugar products and the desire and the need for them. That’s not a negative,” Hammer says. “But I strongly believe the entire confection category is going to see excitement like it has never seen and growth like it has never seen, and it will not come from the conventional products out there.” n
Can They Sue Over Sugar?
With all the hand wringing over the health status of candy, perhaps each piece should come with an end user agreement that protects the giver from being sued for adding unwanted pounds to the recipient. At least that’s what Wally Glenn, who maintains the Planet Wally Web site, which can be found at, thought would inject some levity into the debate.
"I was bagging up candy for Halloween and thought it might be funny to add something humorous to the bag," he explains. "I figured everything has a user agreement nowadays, so I included an End User License Agreement in each bag of candy. I figured it would be fun to do something that would give parents a chuckle."
While this "agreement" was obviously written in jest (with wording that holds the vendor "harmless for future health problems such as obesity, diabetes, heart attacks, missing teeth, failed marriages, sterility, hair loss, cancer, pimples, acne, arthritis . . ."), legal experts aren’t laughing, especially when it comes to candy manufacturers’ liability issues.
The buzz in the legal community is that food and snacks may soon come under attack as the tobacco industry did, with confectionery and soft drink manufacturers at the greatest risk. That’s because sugar-based products have seen the most attacks from consumer bodies that claim the industry should play a more responsible role in combating obesity. The industry is being forewarned: It will probably soon be the target of class-action lawsuits, increased regulation, and financial consequences.
While it may seem ridiculous that companies could be held accountable for the sugar that consumers put into their own mouths, this probably won’t be the focus of the litigation. Instead, it will most likely center on grounds of deceptive marketing rather than personal injury, according to experts.
Defense lawyers say manufacturers are vulnerable to suits about misstating fat, calorie and carbohydrate content. They are advising clients to make sure they disclose all ingredients and pay close attention to wording. Promising that a revamped product is "lower" in fat, even though it is still not low fat, probably won’t cut it in the future, for example.
But what should be of greatest concern to candy manufacturers is how they market to kids. That’s an issue with some oomph to it, according to John Coale, a lawyer recently cited in The New York Times as being involved in tobacco cases, who is now preparing for lawsuits against food companies.
Coale and other experts worry in particular about the marketing plans of food companies. For a candy manufacturer, strategizing about how to display sugary treats so that children can easily persuade parents to buy them may become a taboo practice in the very near future.
The Program Position on Candy
According to Sugar Busters, sugar is the No. 1 diet culprit. It causes the production of insulin, which can keep an individual from losing weight. Consequently, Sugar Busters advocates a low-sugar diet. The program counsels choosing natural unrefined sugars, whole processed grains, high-fiber carbohydrates, lean meats and unsaturated fats in order to lead a healthier lifestyle. Sugar Busters favors cutting out all candy because it contains refined sugars. If that is not possible, the next best thing is to limit the intake of refined sugars to three grams or less per food source. Chocolate with a cocoa content of 60 percent or greater is recomended. Chocolate brands singled out for mention include Le Noir American Chocolate and Valvrona.
The Atkins’ Diet espouses carbohydrate avoidance as the key to weight loss. This diet program strives to create a balance between an individual’s metabolic response, food tastes and lifestyle choices. According to the Atkins’ regimen, dieters can begin to suppress cravings by consuming pure proteins, a combination of proteins and fats, and no carbohydrates for the first 14 days. The Atkins’ Diet recommends completely staying away from all sugars — which means all candy formulated with sugar. However, once an individual has completed all four phases of the Atkins’ regime, it is considered acceptable to occasionally indulge in a favorite piece of candy.
Neither low-carb nor low-fat, the South Beach Diet promises to teach individuals to rely on the right carbohydrates and right fats without having to cut out the foods that everyone enjoys. For the first 14 days, no bread, rice, fruit, potatoes, baked goods, or candy is allowed. However, after those two weeks, the once "banished" foods are slowly reintroduced into a person’s life. The South Beach Diet recommends against consuming candy for the first 14 days. However, after that, it’s not necessary to eliminate all sweets. At that point, South Beach dieters may start slowly integrating foods with a higher glycemic index (such as candy) with foods with a lower glycemic index. For chocolate lovers, dark chocolate is recommended over milk chocolate because it contains less sugar.
Beginning in 1982, Dr. Barry Sears became committed to preventing his own death from heart disease. In that pursuit, he began developing The Zone Diet, which is based on a balance of macronutrients — protein, fats and carbohydrates. According to the Zone formula, for every 3 grams of carbohydrates, an individual should have 4 grams of protein. Zone dieters are advised to consume low-glycemic carbs and restrict calories; some fats are acceptable. The Zone Diet program recognizes that most people have a sweet tooth. Therefore, candy in moderation is acceptable. The book suggests portion control — cutting a standard-size candy bar into quarters, for example. In addition, when having some candy, one should always make sure to have the appropriate amount of protein.
—Jenny Welbel
Healthier Finds from the Big Three
The healthy snack craze may have been initiated by smaller players who can react to trends more quickly, but all three of the major candy companies — Hershey, Masterfoods and Nestlé — are now on board with good-for-you options. Let’s take a look at how the largest confectionery players are playing it.


The industry’s leading manufacturer has signaled that some of its new growth for 2004 will come from outside the traditional candy domain, in the form of nutrition bars. The candy maker has already introduced the 1 Gram Sugar Carb bar, and now plans a third-quarter rollout of a line of nutrition bars based on Dr. Barry Sears’ Zone Diet.
"The unique formulation of these products . . . will help stabilize blood sugar levels, which is the key to controlling hunger and thus keeping weight in a healthy range," according to Hershey and Sears.
"This is an exciting opportunity for us as we further expand our presence in the nutrition snack segment and work with Dr. Sears to meet the growing consumer demand for sound nutrition, convenience and a healthy lifestyle," said Richard Lenny, chairman, president and CEO of Hershey Foods Corp., in a company statement. "Together, we’ll create innovative new products that deliver the superior nutritional benefits of his Zone Diet and the great taste consumers expect from Hershey."


Masterfoods’ first response to consumers looking for "lower" candy options was to pump up the flag on 3 Musketeers packaging, proclaiming "45% Less Fat" than the average among the leading chocolate brands. The candy bar has 4.5 grams of fat per 33-gram serving vs. 8.2 grams of fat on average for the others.
But that was just Masterfoods’ immediate response. The company has also been testing its CocoaVia concept on the Internet ( The privately held venture lifted off in October 2003, directing consumers to the Web site to try the new line, which touts heart health. The new CocoaVia snacks contain naturally occurring cocoa flavanols, which promote healthy circulation and healthy blood vessels, as well as vitamins B6, B12, folic acid, E, C, and calcium, along with three or fewer grams of fat and less than 90 calories per portion. The line also includes "natural plant extracts which have been proven to maintain healthy cholesterol levels," according to the company. Masterfoods is not disclosing its long-term plans for CocoaVia, but a company spokesperson says the Web site has had good consumer response so far.

Sugar-free Turtles and Nips have both been "moving with a lot of consumer and retailer support," says a company spokesperson. The company is going ahead with plans to launch the Nestlé Crunch Sugar Free Low Carb bar, with 3.5 grams of impact carbs, this month.
Will Low-Carb Go the Way of Fat-Free?
Is the current climate of carb-consciousness a long-term trend that will forever reshape the way we think about our diets? Or is it just the latest food fad — one more in a long series of diet programs to enjoy its 15 minutes of fame before fading away and leaving members of the American public with many of the same bad dietary habits they had to begin with?
Put Linda Gilbert squarely in the latter camp. President of HealthFocus International, St. Petersburg, Fla., Gilbert has spent the past 16 years tracking the way that consumers think about health and nutrition issues and serving that information up to food companies in the form of strategic advice on positioning and product development.
Her verdict on low-carb is unequivocal: "I completely, definitely think it’s a fad," says Gilbert. What’s more, she is convinced that it peaked about two months ago.
HealthFocus research suggests that consumers are moving away from the high-protein, high-fat consumption often associated with the Atkins’ Diet. They are opting instead for more of a South Beach Diet approach, which also encourages carb cutbacks, but promotes a generally more balanced eating plan.
"It makes more common sense," says Gilbert. She adds that her company’s trend-tracking research indicates that some consumers, at least, are becoming more sophisticated in their understanding of terminology such as the glycemic index (a gauge of the way a food impacts blood sugar), complex carbohydrates, and good and bad carbs.
A diet trend is "sort of like a pendulum," says Gilbert. "It doesn’t swing just right and left, it swings a little concentrically. When it swings back, it will swing to a slightly different place. People will still watch fat and carbs, but I think we’ll see more attention to fiber and hunger management."
Given her perspective on the faddish nature of low-carb diet programs, it’s not surprising that Gilbert urges food companies to exercise some caution in their bids to board the low-carb bandwagon.
"The carb fad creates opportunities for companies to do flanking products — line extensions and so forth," she says. However, she continues, "We feel it would be a mistake to turn your entire company or brand in the low-carb direction."
Apparently the marketers at Russell Stover Candies have been around long enough to recognize consumers’ willingness to move on to the next new thing. After leading the way with both sugar-free and low-carb chocolate product launches over the course of the past several years, Kansas City, Mo.-based Russell Stover has announced plans to test market Calorie Smart reduced-calorie chocolates.
Some might consider the move a nod to the past since calorie-reduced foods and beverages made a big splash in the 1980s. Or perhaps — if Russell Stover is on the right track — it’s a reflection of where the pendulum is set to swing next.
Candy Not the Culprit
A Look at Candy Consumption versus Obesity around the Globe
A comparison of statistics on per capita candy consumption with data on the percentage of the population that is obese (Body Mass Index of 30 or greater) shows no strong correlation between eating candy and rates of obesity.
Countries with the highest per capita candy consumption do not have the highest incidences of obesity.
  Country Candy Consumption
(pounds per capita in 2000)
Prevalence of Obesity
(percent of the population)*
1. Denmark 35.2 14.0
2. Sweden 34.0 11.0
3. Ireland 32.1 18.0
4. Germany 29.6 20.3
5. Switzerland 29.3 12.3
6. United Kingdom 28.9 22.3
7. Norway 28.0 10.5
8. Austria 27.8 12.0
9. Finland 26.6 22.5
10. United States 25.2 30.9
Source: Compiled by Confectioner, using National Confectioners Association candy consumption statistics and International Obesity Task Force data.
*Obesity percentages for some countries were compiled by averaging obesity rates for the male and female populations. BMI data collection dates vary by country and range from 1995 to 2003.