As the popularity of appetite-suppressing drugs like Ozempic and Wegovy continues to skyrocket, one of America's chief snack food overlords is readying himself — and his company's delicious treats — for battle.
As Bloomberg reports, Kellanova CEO Steve Cahillane, whose company owns Cheez-Its, Rice Krispy Treats, and Pringles, among other beloved though decidedly unhealthy snack brands, has his eyes on the incredibly popular diabetes-management-turned-weight-loss drugs and the impact they might have on his sales.
Originally created to help diabetics balance their blood sugar, the expensive pharmaceuticals, comprised of a drug called semaglutide, work to mimic a hormone dubbed glucagon-like peptide 1, or GLP-1 for short. This hormone is responsible for delaying gastric emptying — that's pretty much exactly what it sounds like — and while this is proven to help diabetic patients regulate insulin levels, the drugs turned out to have another, lucrative side effect that's made them popular in non-diabetic circles as well: rapid weight loss, since they reduce patients' appetites by drastically slowing the rate of the body's food-processing systems.
Although Cahillane admitted to Bloomberg that it's still too early to tell whether the medications will change consumer snack habits in a meaningful way at scale, the founder did say that he and his snacks are "by no means complacent" as the drugs' popularity continues to soar — and he'll whatever it takes to ensure that American consumers continue to guzzle up Kellanova's less-than-health-forward treats.
"Like everything that potentially impacts our business," the CEO told Bloomberg, "we'll look at it, study it and, if necessary, mitigate."
It's unclear how, exactly, Cahillane and co might "mitigate" the dissemination of incredibly popular pharmaceuticals, but the CEO did say that there are "growing stories about the secondary effects of [Ozempic], so we're studying that." Which, to be fair, isn't the worst strategy. Ozempic and its ilk have a number of nasty side effects, including horrible nausea, pain, diarrhea, and constipation, and have also been accused of causing more serious conditions like intestine blockages and stomach paralysis.
Some critics also say the drugs also come with the sad — and less tangible — cost of living a life void of the joy of food, and while some patients have expressed that their personal uncoupling from food has felt freeing, there's certainly an argument to be had for the notion that delicious food is one of the deepest, most meaningful pleasures of the human experience.
Cahillane's Ozempic paranoia also isn't entirely unfounded. According to Bloomberg, a recent Jefferies report noted last week that Kellogg — Kellanova's massive parent company — is one of the snack manufacturers most vulnerable to a potential Ozempic-induced hole in the American snack market.
That said, though, if we're living in a Cheez-It vs. Ozempic world, both sides are hard to root for.
Ozempic does have a legitimate place in the medical landscape. It's quite effective for insulin regulation — as it should be, considering that's why it was first introduced to the market — and it may well help some patients avoid illnesses such as diabetes by achieving a healthier weight. What Ozempic also may have done, however, is highlight a deep, diet-culture-saturated wound in our collective cultural psyche, reviving a cult of thinness-above-all mentality that, for a moment, was briefly disguised by the body-positivity movement of the late 2010s. And again, though some of the purported side effects are pretty incredible, like a link between Wegovy and lowered risk of cardiovascular disease, others, like stomach paralysis, are alarming.
But on the other hand, the omnipresence of highly processed treats like Cheez-Its, Pringles, Rice Krispies, and other very American snack foods have undeniably contributed, in part, to our nation's obesity rate, which is widely recognized as an epidemic. It's difficult to have a positive relationship with food in a modern landscape often void of healthy options, and though Cheez-Its aren't necessarily central to the complex American issue, they're definitely involved.
At the end of the day, our bodies and brains still need nutrients to properly function, and neither Pop-Tarts nor semaglutide medications are particularly nutrient-packed.
Anyway, best of luck to Callihane and Kellanova. May his Cheez-It and Pop-Tart battalions ride into the fight with valor.
More on Ozempic: The FDA Says Ozempic Might Block Your Intestines
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