TV advertising pushes imbalanced diets in the US

Posted by Nicole Eckersley on 4th June 2010

American food advertising shows grossly distorted nutritional patterns, according to a study by the Armstrong Atlantic State University.

Researchers documented food advertisiments on primetime and Saturday-morning television across four networks, analysing each promoted item for nutritional content and portion size.

“The results of this study suggest the foods advertised on television tend to oversupply nutrients associated with chronic illness (eg, saturated fat, cholesterol, and sodium) and undersupply nutrients that help protect against illness (eg, fiber, vitamins A, E, and D, calcium, and potassium),” said the lead investigator, Assistant Professor Michael Mink, in the Jounal of the American Dietic Association.

The research shows that television – a barometer of normal behaviour for most children and many adults – is portraying an unhealthy and skewed picture of eating habits.

A 2000 calorie diet based only on the foods advertised would contain 25 times the RDI of sugars and 20 times the RDI of fat, with only half the recommended vegetables, dairy and fruits.