The ubiquity of television in American culture makes it a potential contributor to the obesogenic (obesity-causing) environment. Televised food advertisements, which encourage viewers to eat the foods promoted for sale, constitute a de facto set of dietary endorsements. The purpose of this study was to compare the nutritional content of food choices endorsed on television to nutritional guidelines. Using a cross-sectional design, food advertisements were observed during 84 hours of primetime and 12 hours of Saturday-morning televised broadcast during the fall of 2004. One-sample t tests were used to compare the food group servings of observed food items to the recommended daily servings and to compare the nutrient content of observed food items to the Daily Values. Results suggest that a diet consisting of observed food items would provide 2,560% of the recommended daily servings for sugars, 2,080% of the recommended daily servings for fat, 40% of the recommended daily servings for vegetables, 32% of the recommended daily servings for dairy, and 27% of the recommended daily servings for fruits. The same diet would substantially oversupply protein, total fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, and sodium, while substantially undersupplying carbohydrates, fiber, vitamins A, E, and D, pantothenic acid, iron, phosphorous, calcium, magnesium, copper, and potassium. Overall, the food choices endorsed on television fail to meet nutrition guidelines and encourage nutritional imbalance.
Mink M, Evans A, Moore CG, et al. Nutritional imbalance endorsed by televised food advertisements. J Am Diet Assoc. 2010;110:904-910.
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