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This isn’t a shocker. A recent study published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association found that television ads promote poor, imbalanced diets.

Researchers analyzed 84 hours of television on the big four networks — ABC, NBC, CBS and Fox. According to researchers, if someone selected only foods advertised on TV during that time they would end up eating 25 times — yes twenty-five times! — the recommended servings of sugars and 20 times the recommended servings of fat. Oh, and less than half the recommended servings of veggies, dairy and fruit. And the same diet would also be missing 12 nutrients that we need to stay healthy: iron, phosphorus, vitamin A, carbohydrates, calcium, vitamin E, magnesium, copper, potassium, pantothenic acid, fiber, and vitamin D.

From the study release: “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),” according to lead investigator Michael Mink, PhD, Assistant Professor and MPH Program Coordinator, Armstrong Atlantic State University, Savannah, GA.

The most important part of this study was that the researchers included Saturday morning cartoon time (8 to 11 a.m.) in their sample. This is significant because kids are highly susceptible. They want what they see, especially if a cute cartoon character or catchy slogan is telling them they want it. And there was lots of food advertising during that time period.

My daughter — my big girl — an I have been discussing TV ads since she could talk. She understands why yogurt with pictures of Dora on it is probably unhealthy. She understands that advertisers are smart, and expect people to be stupid. She gets that we need to be smarter than they want us to be. And it’s probably no surprise that none of the stuff we buy is advertised on TV. Except for my husband’s occasionally party beer. How about you and your kids (if you have them)? Do you get that, too?

Next time you go shopping take the time to think about why you’re buying something. Have you read the label? Is it good for you? Is there a lesser-known and probably healthier option? And if you have kids: Do they really like what you’re buying or do they like what it stands for? Could you, maybe just once, pick an alternative and try it out?

I just re-read the above paragraph. Yes, it sounds a little judgmental, but I am weary today. Our entire southern coast is being assaulted by a brand. BP is a master of advertising deception with its new “green” logo and its environmental stewardship commercials. I’m just sick of being lied to, and I want other people to feel the same way, I guess.

How do you shop? Does brand or advertising matter? I’d like to know. Oh, and this post is part of Fight Back Fridays, a real food movement that’s great fun to be a part of. Check out the other participants here.

3 Responses to “TV Commercials Lead to a Poor Diet”

  1. cooking natural/whole/og was something i did before getting married & having kids; it was never, to my knowledge, important to my (then) wife. and 20 years ago, there was less choice, the costs were higher, and produce wasn’t always the best. Safeway did not have a house OG line. and then, when we got divorced & the kids were with her the majority of time, my ability to influence them in this way was severely reduced.

    i do have one great success, however: by bad-mouthing McDonald’s, Burger King, etc, for years, neither boy has eaten at those places for years (unless they’ve gone with their mom). i wasn’t 100% consistent on this; there were a few times to Carls, Jr, but if we ate out, i tried to make it a bit better than fast food. i’d spend a bit extra & we’d go to Red Robin, things like that.

    i know something sank in, though: both boys are grown up, both are very much into working out, and that means they have learned to eat healthy. for all i did not manage to accomplish as a parent, between my ex and me, we set an example of trying to be healthy, to exercise, to think about what we were doing with our lives. that both of my sons are taking very strong, active steps to be healthy is no accident; they have chosen their own paths in life, but both have chosen paths that incorporate healthy living. i count this as a parental win.

  2. o yea: our kids watched about zero of the standard tv fare. some pbs (NO freaking Barney), videos and not a lot else. Jesse, my younger son, and I would watch Iron Chef, Trading Places and play Legos; Alex was busy teaching himself to play guitar with tabs he found on the web. our tv always had a mute, and commericials were either silenced or a channel switched. i never bought anything based on ads, and i doubt their mom did, either. and for all the whining they did over the years for the stuff they wanted, they got precious little of that. today both are, if not exactly frugal, probably more thoughtful about what they buy than 90% of Americans. again, ftw!

  3. Alexandra says:

    Have you heard of Free to Be You and Me? It was a record my kids listened to when they were small. Too bad it does not exist today. Would make a ton of money.

    I loved the paragraph about your daughter, above.

    Re. BP being green: Ha Ha! Here on Cape Cod, we are fighting NStar, a utility company which wants to spray up to five herbicides under 150 miles of powerlines, and we all drink well water. Ugh!

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