Just how unhealthy is a diet based solely on television advertisements? The research finds that if you make food choices on TV commercials alone, you would consume 25 times the recommended daily servings for sugar and exceed the recommended serving of fat by 20 times. Advertisements also had less than half of the recommended amounts of vegetables, dairy, and fruits.
Time reports that in addition to promoting these unhealthy foods, the ads also steer people away from foods that contain necessary vitamins and nutrients. The study found that 775 foods advertised contained insufficient amounts of twelve essential nutrients, including calcium, potassium, fiber and vitamin D.
The study, led by Armstrong Atlantic State University professor Michael Mink, PhD, involved observing food advertisements that were broadcast throughout 84 hours of prime time television in 2004. The research team also watched 12 hours of Saturday morning children’s programming. Each commercial was analyzed for nutritional value and portion sizes were converted to the correct number of servings.
According to WebMD, a person making their food decisions based on television commercials would receive:
- 2,560% of the recommended daily servings of sugar
- 2,080% of the recommended daily servings for fat
- 40% of the recommended daily servings of veggies
- 32% of daily dairy requirements
- 27% of their daily requirements for fruit
Time also reports that even though many restaurants and companies have worked to introduce healthier items, these do not usually appear in their advertisements.
This study is published in the June issue of Journal of the American Dietetic Association.