In a February presentation to investment analysts, a top executive of The Kellogg Co. described a shift in how the company is positioning its products. “We are on the journey from diet to wellness, from an absence of negatives, less calories, to more bang for the calories I consume,” said Paul Norman, the company’s chief growth officer. In particular, Mr. Norman was discussing ways to reinvigorate Kellogg’s Special K cereal brand, which for many years had been marketed as a product aimed to help consumers lose weight.

That consumers have shifted in their thinking about weight loss was prominent in presentations and conversations at the recent annual meeting of the American Bakers Association. Citing survey data gathered last fall, Todd Hale, an industry consultant who was with Nielsen for many years, said even among consumers who are dieting, the most popular approach to losing weight is now “eating more natural and fresh foods.” This tack, which for the first time has eclipsed consuming less fat or fewer sweets, is interesting in part because it seems anything but a direct approach toward weight loss.

From time immemorial, bakers have been combating the view that baked foods are associated with obesity. While this canard has not gone away, the industry also must consider how to capitalize on the considerable value its products have in both freshness and wellness.