Solution Proposal Jessica Dulz

Writer's Memo:

•I found this part of my paper to be particularly interesting:
•This part was surprisingly difficult:
•Next time I would do this differently:

I found the information behind how advertising works, and how effective it can be very interesting, because I like the psychology that is put in behind it. Finding research about what has already been done was kind of hard, because protein is still currently viewed in a very positive light. Next time I would do more research about possible solutions before I started to write about one, because I found myself wanting to switch proposals but decided to stay with more original and make it work and support it. I am actually very happy with how this paper turned out in the end.


How we can help athletes and all consumers make wise choices when it comes to protein

In today's society it is undeniable that the United States is facing issues surrounding the health of its citizens. This problem has escalated further than just weight management. Many people, and especially athletes, have a twisted view of what creates and sets up a healthy life style. A common belief is that consuming large amounts of protein will promote muscle growth and maintenance in the human body. One of the main contributing factors to this belief is the way that protein is advertised, packaged, and promoted. Many protein ads and commercials show very physically fit and attractive people taking protein supplements and claim that they achieved their body through the consumption of this excess protein in their diets. Most people then get the conclusion in their head that they can look like that if they also consume either that specific protein supplement or any extra protein enriched bars or drinks. However, that is not true at all. We now face the challenge of correcting that misconception that society has formed. I believe this can be done through placing and regulating warning labels on protein supplements. By placing warning labels on these products the consumer will be more aware of what is entering into their bodies, and hopefully reconsider the purchase.

While strictly looking at the protein consumption of athletes the journal of sport science has found that most athletes consume enough protein based on their normal diet without having to add any extra supplemental protein to their diet (Wolfe, Tipton 65). The goal of many athletes is to increase the size of their skeletal muscle through high protein intake; however there is still little evidence that supports this claim that high protein diets will provide this result (Wolfe, Tipton 66). According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), some sources of protein that can be found in the average lifestyle consist of meat, poultry, fish, tofu, legumes, eggs, nuts and seeds, milk products, and grains. There are three different types of proteins that the human body needs to thrive. These proteins are complete, incomplete, and complimentary. Complete proteins come from animal based food sources, and are considered high quality proteins because they provide all the essential amino acids needed. There are also incomplete proteins, which are missing at least one of the essential amino acids. The third type of protein is complimentary, which is the result of two or more incomplete protein combining together to provide the necessary amount of essential amino acids (CDC). The average adult needs 0.8 grams of protein for every 2.2 pounds of body weight a day (Quinn). This differs from strength athletes who need about 1.4 grams, and endurance athletes who need about 1.2 grams of protein per 2.2 pounds of body weight each day (Quinn).

Although, it may be argued that there is no such thing as too much protein in an athlete’s diet that has been proven wrong. The higher the amount of protein that someone consumes in their diet, the harder they are forcing their kidneys to work to remove the nitrogen, which is a product of the metabolization process of protein (Caffery). Another problem that can result from increased protein intake in athletes is dehydration. Athletes are already active enough and suffer from this problem without the additional stress that protein can add to this issue. When protein is broken down urea is formed and the body must excrete water to dispose of this product. Athletes have already been predisposed to osteoporosis and arthritis in joints because of the pressure that sports put on bones and joints, and now it has been found that protein can increase these risks. This is done when purified protein is consumed and calcium is taken away from the bones making an athlete’s risk for osteoporosis much higher (Caffery). If an athlete chooses to disregard these risk factors they must also understand that there is a maximum amount of protein that will be used by the body and the excess will simply be stored as fat. This is due to the large amount of calories that are contained in protein, and any calories that are not burned are stored as fat (Caffery). These are all good reasons to support athletes limiting their protein consumption and finding out exactly how much is need for that unique person.

The main problem with the way that society views the process of building a lean and tone body is that they can achieve this goal simply through dietary supplements, which is not true. In order to build muscle someone must participate in physical activity. There are vast options to choose from to be physically active such as: walking, distance running, tennis, basketball, weight lifting, sprinting, swimming, and much more. The main difference between the types of exercise and sports is whether it is strengthening or endurance. It has been found that endurance athletes benefit more from increased protein than strength athletes because they can use protein as a source of 5% - 10% of their total energy used during exercise (Caffery). If the athlete chooses a strength sport or activity it has been found that the amount of protein consumed is not as important as the amount of carbohydrates, such as pasta and breads, that the athlete intakes and glycogen stores (Quinn). The reason that protein is not as necessary as carbohydrates are is because protein and fat have not been found to be able to oxidize quickly enough to be used to supply the body with the energy needed during exercise (Quinn). The carbohydrates are used to restore glycogen levels that are being used during the intense workout and fuel the body. A study found that in two groups of young men where one group consumed 3.3 grams of protein, as opposed to the recommended 1.3 grams, there was little to no difference in increased muscle mass between the groups. It is also important to point out that whether an athlete participates in endurance or strength training there still exists a maximum point where the protein is no longer beneficial (Caffery).

While viewing any type of advertisement the goal is to evoke some type of emotion or connection with each viewer, and this can vary between each person. The whole point of the advertisement is to attract the potential customer to the product that they are trying to sell. According to Inside the Consumer Mind, an article done by Dr. Peter Murray in Psychology Today, neuro-imagery provides supportive research that consumers tend to use emotion or personal feelings and experiences to make choices about the products that they buy as opposed to information or facts. This is used to explain why consumers often buy brand name products over generic brands (Murray). These findings can then be related to the impact of protein supplement advertising. When consumers see fit and tone bodies of the actors or model in the ad, it creates the feeling of envy and jealousy. This is why many people believe that the ads that they see and purchase the protein supplement even though it is not necessary for them to consume that much additional protein. Murray states that “a brand is nothing more than a mental representation of a product in the consumer’s mind." If someone were to reflect back on the protein supplement advertisement that they saw they would most likely only remember the athletic body of the person in the ad rather than facts and features of beneficial ingredients that are included in the product. This also supports the claim that the emotional connection made through the ad is more important than facts.

Although advertising is, in my opinion, the main source of this distorted view of protein there are other sources that provide athletes with these false ideas. For example many college or professional athletes are provided athletic trainers, and strength and conditioning coaches. Athletes will go to these people in hopes for improving skills that are related to their specific sports. The false idea that a large amount of protein is necessary is also present in those who are educated in sports and fitness. Many trainers, and coaches do not know the truth behind the effects of protein on the body and what amounts really are necessary. However, this is not the main cause of the problem because there are more athletes and those individuals who are simply trying to stay fit that do not have trainers and coaches available to them. Thus, this is not the main cause of the problem. Others may say that stores such as GNC or Herbalife may promote the overconsumption protein. This can be one of the reasons that people are getting too much protein in their diet, but these stores can be linked to the issue of advertising on the bottles and canisters or posters created by protein companies. Stores like these do create some discussion and influence the opinions of those that shop at these stores, because those employed by these businesses are often trusted to have knowledge about nutrition. However, there are not many people that shop at these stores, and these stores still place a large emphasis on advertising since the goal is to sell the product. As well as employees that work at any stores that sell protein supplements are advertising for the company and convincing people to purchase their product.

Since this problem was vastly expanded through the use of advertisements I believe that ads are also the proper solution to change the way that consumers are viewing protein and protein supplements. By placing warning labels or guidelines on any part of the packaging of protein supplements the consumer is being given the proper information to help them make the best choice for their health. This label does not have to be large or go into great detail about risks of consuming too much protein, but should simply state that there are added health risks when consuming the supplement. These labels should contain some form of color, such as a bold colored border, that will catch the attention of the consumer. The label should also list a website that consumers can go to and receive more information about protein supplements. Once the consumer visits this website, which should be maintained and organized by the Federal Drug and Food Administration, they would be able to find information regarding how much protein is needed for the average male and female, risk factors and adverse effects that have been associated with a large consumption of protein. Once this was done I believe that our society would see a huge change in the way that protein is commonly viewed. Placing warning labels or guidelines on the packaging of dietary supplements is something that is already being done by the FDA, thus adding protein supplements to the list would not be an overwhelming task especially when compared to the benefits that would come from this change.

Some people may question if warning labels on products really work and are taken into account by consumers when purchasing the product. Dr. Jennifer Argo and Dr. Kelley Main performed research to answer this very question. Their research separated effectiveness into five different categories: attention, reading/ comprehension, recall, judgment, and behavioral compliance. The attention category assesses if the consumer notices the warning label placed on the package. Following this, the next category that must be evaluated is if they read the label and understand the information that it contains. Next, one must assess if the consumer remembers the information that is provided in the label, which is the third category. Then, it must be determined if the warning label influences the consumers opinions about what the label is presenting to them about the product. Finally, the most important test to determine if a warning label is effective is if the outcome of the consumers decision is successfully influenced by the label, and the consumer follows with the safety precautions that are listed (Argo, Main). While analyzing the effectiveness of warning labels to attract the attention of the consumer Argo and Main concluded that it was effective, and found that it was the most effective when the label contained color or symbols. However, while analyzing comprehension and recall it was found that there were low rates of effectiveness. In conclusion to analyzing judgment of the consumer it was found that label were not as effective for frequently purchased products, such as cigarettes. Results for the final category of behavioral compliance indicated that consumers appear to be positively influenced by the warning label, and consumers were more likely to comply with the label when the level of difficulty of doing so was low (Argo, Main). Since protein can be found in the average person’s everyday diet there would be little extra effort that the consumer would have to do in order to follow the warning label. This research supports the use of warning labels as long as they are designed effectively. In compliance with these finding the FDA should ensure that labels contain some amount of color or symbols that will draw the attention of the consumer and provide the best possible label for the interest of the consumer.

It is vital to this solution to understand who or what organization is responsible for warning labels that are on protein or any other type of dietary supplement. According to the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994, the manufacturers or distributors of supplements and ingredients for dietary use are prohibited from misbranding, which means that those businesses are responsible for ensuring that the products are properly labeled and that all requirements of the DSHEA and the Federal Drug and Food Administration, which is also known as the FDA, are met (FDA). However, once the dietary supplements reaches the market it is the responsibility of the FDA to take action against any of the above offenses. It is possible to make the FDA aware of the over consumption of protein in America today, and convince this administration for the need of warning labels placed on supplement bottles. The FDA's website states that anyone is able to contact the administration about alternative approaches to labeling guidelines that they feel do not satisfy what the consumer should have easy and accessible knowledge about regarding the supplement. In order to do this there are a few steps that must take place. The individual that is requesting this change in labeling is responsible for finding the correct FDA staff member to contact about the possible change, and if this number cannot be found they can then contact the phone number that is listed on their website and will be directed to the appropriate employee (FDA). Next, the concerned individual or organization must work with those members of the staff that are directly involved with this area in order to elaborate on how serious this issue actually is, and persuade these members of the administration to view this issue with the same amount of desire and ambition to see a change in our society that they have.

Currently there are no warning labels or guidelines enforced by the Federal Drug and Food Administration regarding protein intake and the negative effects that is can have on those who consume too much of it. However, there have been recent discussions within the FDA about adding warning labels to the front of the packages on dietary supplements, such as protein. This initiative has been suggested in order to work together with the food industry and help the consumers choose healthy diets. If the FDA were to follow through with this plan it would greatly improve the amount of unbiased facts that the consumer would have access to about the protein supplement that they are purchasing unlike the information that they receive through advertisements. There remains one large difference between labeling guidelines and warning labels, which is guidelines are just that, guides or suggested labels that dietary supplement companies place on their products. Warning labels however, are a requirement of the FDA that must be placed on supplements/ products that the FDA deems fitting. The first warning label came out in 1990 due to the Nutrition Labeling and Education Act (FDA). The FDA should go above labeling guidelines and require that all producers of protein supplements place a warning label on their product to properly inform the customer and allow them to make the best choice for their lifestyle.

Other possible solutions to the problem that we are facing with the over consumption of protein due to advertisements could arguably be solved through banning any claims or suggestions made through the marketing tactics that exaggerate, misinform, or lead to poor decision making by the customer. However, it would take many organizations great lengths to achieve this, and would still fail to address the underlying issue of why society is consuming the vast amounts of protein to begin with, because they would still believe that massive amounts of protein is healthy. This solution would not be cost effective or efficient if the government or private companies were to attempt to try and succeed with this proposal. It is because of those reasons that it is much more practical to begin with warning labels placed on packages of protein supplements. Others may suggest that the FDA ban protein supplements all together, because that would greatly reduce the amount of unnecessary protein that people are consuming, however this is extremely unrealistic. One reason that this would not be a realistic solution to the problem is because there are still other sources where consumers are able to find protein. For example, they could simply begin eating large amounts of protein rich foods. If protein supplements were to be banned completely the food industry would begin to advertise high levels of protein in their products to entice customers to purchase their products. This would only make the main issue confronting protein consumption, which is advertising worse. By banning all protein supplements it would also be placing unnecessary stress on those who actual require protein supplement to live a healthy lifestyle. Some example of someone who may actually require protein supplements could be those who have a medical condition, or vegetarians who do not receive enough protein from the foods that they choose to consume. By placing warning labels it does not restrict those who consume protein properly, but it does warn those who have false ideas about protein and overuse protein to the extent of it no longer being healthy. Some may also suggest that the best way to solve this issue is to provide more education to students in health education classes. Although this would be a good way to educate children this solution does not reach adults, who are the main consumers of protein supplements. It would take years to see the result of these children growing up and beginning to make smart choices about protein consumption. There is also the issue of if these kids will even remember what they were taught in health class when they grow up. Placing warning labels on protein supplements reaches the ideal consumer that must be informed of this issue, and who can then pass on the information and healthy habits to their kids.

In conclusion, implementing warning labels on protein supplements is the most effective way to change the way that our society is currently viewing protein which is cause by advertisements that distort the truth about how protein affects the body and health of consumers. Warning labels have been used for over 20 years and continue to be effective in positively influencing the views and choices of consumers. By taking the research done by Dr. Argo and Main into consideration it is clearly seen how effective warning labels have the potential to be when designed properly to ensure the maximum success of the warning label.


Resources

Caffery, Lee. "How Much Protein Do Athletes Need." Vanderbilt.edu. N.p.. Web. 10 Feb 2014. <http://www.vanderbilt.edu/AnS/psychology/health_psychology/Protein.htm>.

United States. Center for Disease Control. Protein. Atlanta: , 2012. Print. <http://www.cdc.gov/nutrition/everyone/basics/protein.html>.

Quinn, Elizabeth. "Sports Nutrition - Protein Needs for Athletes." About.com Sports Medicine. N.p., 10 09 2010. Web. 16 Feb 2014. <http://sportsmedicine.about.com/od/sportsnutrition/a/Protein.htm>.

Wolfe, Robert, and Kevin Tipton. "Protein and amino acids for athletes." Journal of sports science. (2004): 65-79. Web. 16 Feb. 2014. <http://www.uscupstate.edu/uploadedFiles/Student_Affairs/Health_Promotion_and_Education/Protein IV.pdf>.

Murray, Peter. "How Emotions Influence What We Buy." Psychology Today. (2013): n. page. Web. 16 Mar. 2014. <http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/inside-the-consumer-mind/201302/how-emotions-influence-what-we-buy>.

United States. Food and Drug Administration. Dietary Supplements Labeling Guide. 2014. Web. 20 April. 2014 <http://www.fda.gov/food/guidanceregulation/guidancedocumentsregulatoryinformation/dietarysupplements/ucm2006823.htm>

Argo, Main. "Do Warning Labels really work?" Association for consumer research. 2014. Web 20 April. 2014 <http://www.acrwebsite.org/web/acr-content/705/do-warning-labels-really-work.aspx>

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