Can Logo Design Combat Obesity?


Logo design and branding can accomplish a lot. They can build a business or utterly destroy it. They can inspire customers to become patrons or turn them off entirely. However, the United States government is hoping that logo design can perform a new and interesting role in combatting obesity.

Obesity is one of the greatest health concerns facing the American public, having risen to dangerous and even embarrassing proportions. Health experts estimate that the generally excessive weight of our population may double or even triple our annual health care expenditures. It is impossible for a society to be successful in the long-term when its average citizen is unhealthy. There are good reasons for the government to care about the weight of Americans.

The new logo features the name of the new USDA Food Pyramid website along with a plate broken into ideal portions. The cool green background is modern and nonthreatening; in addition, this color has been found to make people less hungry, which is probably why it is so conspicuously absent from fast food restaurants. After all, this logo is not intended to make Americans want to reach for a snack.

The plate is divided into sections that are intended to show the proportion of your diet that should be made up of the different food groups. These sections are brightly colored to be eye-catching and also to contrast with the lime green background.

There’s no doubt that the logo is going to gain some attention, but it (and the newly designed website) has already been the source of criticism and controversy. Nutritionists and other health professionals have protested that it does little to address the major cause of obesity: the huge portions of food consumed in the United States. There are no guidelines in the logo design as to how many ounces a portion should be. However, it should be noted that the logo is intended to draw people to the website, not to present comprehensive dietary guidelines at a glance. Also, there is some conflicting information on the website, but that has nothing to do with the logo or the general brand.

Hopefully this logo will be more effective than its predecessors. The first food pyramid was released in 1992 to inform the public of what exactly good nutrition entails. That was not effective, so a new, revised pyramid was released in 2005, including more detailed information about food choices along with a little stick figure to represent exercise. This was still ineffective; hence the new design.

Is a lack of dietary awareness and education the reason for America’s obesity epidemic? If so, this logo design just may be successful in cutting back on the growing number of overweight and obese Americans. However, there are likely other factors that contribute to the unfortunate trend. Sedentary lifestyles, the low cost of unhealthy foods and other causes will not be affected by a logo. We believe in the power of good graphic design, but even the most avid design enthusiast will acknowledge that field cannot do everything.