Remember when the media were obsessed with murderous millennials? There was a period, some years back, when every other article was about how millennials were killing everything from the diamond industry to napkins to capitalism. (Alas, we didn’t quite manage to top that last one.) Anyway, we had a good run, but we millennials are old now; we have kids and cricks in our necks. It is gen Z’s turn to pick up the sword. And what do you know? It seems they already have. Their first victim? The word “diet”.
According to CNN, diet drinks are disappearing from supermarket shelves and being replaced with identical products labelled as “zero sugar”. “Younger people just don’t like the word ‘diet’,” it reported the chief marketing officer at PepsiCo Beverages North America saying at an industry conference last month. “No gen Z wants to be on a diet these days.”
According to a report by the market research company Mintel last year: “While the diet designation may be associated with strict regimes or deprivation, the ‘zero’ designation has fewer negative connotations, corresponding with simply a cleaner profile.”
Credit where it is due: gen Z’s tastes have been shaped by their elders. The word “diet”, along with the strict calorie counting that went along with it, started going out of fashion years ago. “Body positivity” became all the rage and the idea that you might not feel good about your body became slightly embarrassing.
Unrealistic beauty ideals were still being shoved down people’s throats, but you couldn’t really admit that they were influencing you. People stopped talking about dieting and starting gushing about woolly concepts such as “wellness” and “clean eating” – which are often just diets in disguise.
“Diet” may have become a dirty word, but dieting is by no means dead – it has just gone into stealth mode.