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Yao Cheng

Dr. Amy Lewis

PROV 501 P03

Mar. 23th, 2017

Present Situation of Food Advertisements


Since the dependence and addiction of people on electronic devices grow rapidly and

dramatically, it is extremely difficult for people to avoid getting in touch with the food

advertisement on mass media. This article aims to collect information and make conclusions of

influences of food advertisement by referring to several research papers in nutrition.

Surprisingly, the effects of food advertisement on consumers are not as positive or optimistic as

most people think. There is no doubt that discussion and rethinking should be considered about

these research results.

Key Words: Food advertisement, nutrition, health, adolescents, buying intention

Under no circumstances can we deny the fact that media messages usually have a significant

influence on people’s food choices and consumption, health behavior, and even buying intension

(Mink, Evans, Moore, Calderon, & Deger, 2010; Pettigrew, Roberts, Chapman, Quester, &

Miller, 2012). Given the ubiquity and popularity of mass media, advertisements, which act as

one of the primary information source, do impact greatly on people’s life, especially on health

and food choices (Finnegan & Viswanath, 2002). Hardly can people imagine that by the age of

65, the average number of advertisements that each person would have seen is approximate 2

million, of which a large portion is related to food (Herr, 2004). Moreover, it seems that there are

more advertisements about unhealthy food than healthy food (Pettigrew, Roberts, Chapman,

Quester, & Miller, 2012). As a result, considerations, such as whether these advertisements have

good effects or not, is there any difference on impacts between youth and adults, or whether it is

extremely hard for people to make choice between tasty food and healthy food, have kept being

wondered by normal people and researchers. After referring to several contemporary research

articles, present situation of food advertisements may not be very optimistic and rethinking of

them should be taken urgently.

Supporting Points

Firstly, a research, which was published in 2010, did a record experiment about food

advertisement, collected a great amount of data, and made rigorous analyses on the results

(Mink, Evans, Moore, Calderon, & Deger, 2010). The results of this study illustrated that the

food advertisements on American TV have a great chance to let people digress significantly from

“the recommendation of both Daily Values of DRI (Daily Reference Intake) and the Food Guide

Pyramid” (Mink, Evans, Moore, Calderon, & Deger, 2010, p. 906). Additionally, the authors also
calculated the serving sizes of different nutrients in the food on these recorded advertisements.

The findings showed that the serving sizes of carbohydrate, lipid, and protein were enormously

greater than the standard, while the servings of dairy, fruits, and vegetables were too few (Mink,

Evans, Moore, Calderon, & Deger, 2010). According to the 2005 Dietary Guidelines for

Americans, American people consumed excessive saturate fat, cholesterol, sodium, and added

sugars, as well as deficient some kinds of Vitamins and minerals, all of which are undoubtedly

matched with the results of this research (US Department of Health and Human Services and

US , 2009). Hence, by analyzing these statistic results, people in the U.S. can easily make a

conclusion that the nutrients imbalance in their daily diets is significantly influenced by the

exposure to food advertisements.

Secondly, young generation is usually influenced by the environment more easily, especially

when they watch television and get information from advertisements. In 2011, Adachi-Mejia and

her colleges made a study on adolescent and their receptivity to food advertisements (Adachi-

Mejia, et al., 2011). In this article, interestingly, the results demonstrated that compared to

adolescents who have normal weights, those overweight youths, whose proportion contains more

than one third of the entire research participants (35.9%), have a greatly less likelihood to accept

or receive food advertisements. On the other hand, the unhealthy food advertisements seem to be

more attractive for all the adolescents (Adachi-Mejia, et al., 2011). In the discussion part of this

study, the authors demonstrated two possible explanations for the results. The first reason might

be related to the home food restrictions for adolescents with healthful weight, which contribute

significantly to their normal weight and good health condition. That means these youths will

have limited chance to get unhealthy food and snacks, and the advertised unhealthy food might

be more attractive for them (Adachi-Mejia, et al., 2011). According to Adachi-Mejia, et al.
(2011), the second reason is that for those overweight adolescents, there must be abundant

unhealthy food and snacks in their home, which is also the primary reason that they are

overweight, and the food advertisement undoubtedly will be less attractive for them.

Finally, it is usually a tough task for people to choose the healthy-claimed food instead of

tasty and appealing one. According to Bialkova, Sasse, & Fenko (2016), consumers usually

emphasized more on taste of food products than their health claim, which has failed to make an

aguement on “consumers’ perception of the food products’ healthfulness” (p. 44). Furthermore,

interestingly, most of time, the health-benefit-claimed potato chips seemed to be far more

attractive than the flavored cereal. In addition, consumers usually tended to question or neglect

the trustwothiness of the unhealthy warning or label displayed on the front of food packs

(Bialkova, Sasse, & Fenko, 2016).

Discussion & Rethinking

The studies mentioned above are all well researched and summarised, each author did a great

job on experiment design, data collecting and results analyses. Since refered to limited

references, this article must not be perfectly comprehesive and accurate. As the first research

paper of a new internatonal graduate student, this article unescapably lacks of profession and

rigorous logicality.

Even though there have been plenty of research on food advertisements, it seems that the

influence of them on people’s food consumption has not changed a lot during long peroid of

time. The first explanation might be that for most people, they still focus less on nutrients they

intake every day. It is a common sense that people should go to hospital when they get sick.

However, people usually neglect the fact that most of the diseases they get are food or nutrients

related. Secondly, the food advertisements displayed on television, labels or other mass media
are lack of control and monitoring. Like the medicine controled strictly by FDA (Food and Drug

Administration), food on advertisements should be supervised by gvernment more rigorously no

matter on the adequacy and accuracy of nutrients or on trustworthiness and honesty of the food

claims. With so many negetive influences on consumers, the rethinking of food advertisements

should be considered seriously and profoundly.


Adachi-Mejia, A. M., Sutherland, L. A., Longacre, M. R., Beach, M. L., Titus-Ernstoff, L.,

Gibson, J. J., & Dalton, M. A. (2011). Adolescent Weight Status and Receptivity to Food

TV Advertisements. Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior, 43(6), 441-448.

Bialkova, S., Sasse, L., & Fenko, A. (2016). The role of nutrition labels and advertising claims in

altering consumers' evaluation and choice. Appetite, 96, 38-46.

Finnegan, J., & Viswanath, K. (2002). Communication theory and health behavior change: The

media studies framework. In K. Glanz , B. Rimer, & F. Lewis, Health Behavior and

Health Education (3rd ed., pp. 361-388). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Herr, N. (2004, June 8). Television Statistics. Retrieved from The Sourcebook for Teaching


Mink, M., Evans, A., Moore, C. G., Calderon, K. S., & Deger, S. (2010). Nutritional Imbalance

Endorsed by Televised Food Advertisements. The American Dietetic Association, 110,


Pettigrew, S., Roberts, M., Chapman, K., Quester, P., & Miller, C. (2012). The use of negative

themes in television food advertising. Appetite, 58, 496-503.
US Department of Health and Human Services and US . (2009, August 28). 2005 Dietary

Guidelines for Americans. Retrieved from U.S. Department of Health & Human Services: