Nutrition and Health Sciences, Department of


Date of this Version



Published in Consumer Behavior in the Health Marketplace: A Symposium Proceedings, Ian M. Newman, Editor, Nebraska Center for Health Education & University of Nebraska-Lincoln, 1976.


Let me confess at the outset that I feel uncomfortable with the title given to my presentation, "Selling Health to the Public," and that I feel equally uncomfortable with such terms as, "marketing health," "the health marketplace," or any others that equate the health area with the marketplace.

These terms have become quite popular in recent years because the presumed success of Madison Avenue and the methods and gimmicks of commercial sales promotion easily tempt health professionals to adopt these same methods and gimmicks in the cause of health education.

I feel uncomfortable with these terms and with what they seem to suggest for health education because I believe that they threaten to lead the health professions into ineffective and even self-defeating approaches.

There are many critical differences between selling commercial goods and services to consumers on the one hand and selling people on using health services and healthful living habits on the other. I would like to point out just a few of the most glaring differences.