Food Advertising – Friend or Foe

Working in the field of advertising I sometimes have to defend the intentions of marketers.  Yes, we are here to make consumers spend money, but we are also here to build awareness of new products/services/organizations etc.  I recently read an article from MediaPost which I found to be a little disturbing.

Researchers from Yale University, found that 45% of children age 7-11 ate more snack food while watching a cartoon that included food commercials than those who watched the same cartoon with non-food commercials.  This could lead to a weight gain of about 10 pounds a year unless counteracted by an otherwise healthy diet and physical activity.

Adults are no better.  Those exposed to unhealthy food ads ate more than those exposed to ads with a healthy food message.

The article concludes that food advertising has a direct link to automatic eating, regardless of hunger.

Personally, I can’t say I fall into this category, maybe because I work in advertising and dissect TV commercials like a film critic.  But what worries me is the effect it has on children.  I can’t help but take defense to the side of the TV commercial.  The advertising of a products despite how much sugar or fat content is an important part of our economy.  Consumers [In this case parents] need to take an active role in filtering the messages seen in advertising and relaying that to their kids.

Hopefully one day educators will place as much emphasis on food education as they do on algebra.  And maybe one day people will come to their senses and products containing high fructose corn syrup will become completely extinct.

Full MediaPost Article


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