Food ads targeting parents promise taste, convenience, but deliver bad nutrition, study finds

With childhood obesity recognized as a growing national problem, a University at Albany School of Public Health study finds that a majority of food advertisements in magazines targeting parents emphasize products of poor nutritional quality that may contribute to unhealthy weight gain.

The study, published in Public Health Nutrition, examines directed towards parents in national parenting and family magazines. The study's authors used to examine advertisements appearing in four issues each of six different national magazines during 2008.

"Much research has been done looking at food ads directed toward youth, so we wanted to look at foods ads aimed at parents since parents play an important role in shaping the diet of their children," said Jennifer Manganello, the study's lead author and an assistant professor in the Department of Health Policy, Management & Behavior in the UAlbany School of Public Health.

In 476 food ads, which represented approximately 32 percent of all ads in the magazine sample, snack food ads appeared most frequently (13%), followed by dairy products (7%). The most frequently used ad message was "taste" (55%). Other repeating non-food themes used in ads included "convenience," "fun," and "helping families spend time together." Some ads promoted foods as "healthy" (14%) and some made specific health claims (18%), such as asserting the product would help lower cholesterol.

However, the study's authors, all public health researchers, found that more than half (55.9%) of the food products advertised were of poor , based on total fat, saturated fat, sodium, protein, sugar, and fiber content, and that ads for these low-nutrition products were slightly more likely to use such sales themes as "fun" and "no guilt."

Manganello and study colleagues conclude that interventions should be developed to help parents understand nutritional information seen in and to learn how various foods contribute to providing a balanced family diet.

"We recommend that parents carefully review nutrition labels for food purchases to obtain the information they need to make informed decisions about the foods they give their children," she said.

More information: journals.cambridge.org/action/… e=online&aid=8776360

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Food adverts in your magazine: how healthy are they?

Jan 19, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- At a time when many of us are thinking about how to get rid of a few extra pounds, research at Newcastle University has shown that even the magazine you read may affect how healthy your diet is.

Advertising Child's Play

Dec 10, 2008

(PhysOrg.com) -- Children on their way to school are five times more likely to see the advertising of soft drinks, alcohol, ice-cream and confectionary than ads for healthy foods.

Do TV ads affect children's diet, obesity?

Feb 22, 2010

Researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago Institute for Health Research and Policy have received a $2.2 million federal grant to determine whether or not TV food advertising affects children's diet, physical activity ...

New study levels new criticisms at food industry

Dec 14, 2009

A new study released Monday, Dec. 14, in Washington, D.C., criticizes the nation's food and beverage industry for failing to shift their marketing efforts aimed at children. The report said television advertising continues ...

Recommended for you

Hospital logs staggering 2.5 million alarms in just a month

7 hours ago

Following the study of a hospital that logged more than 2.5 million patient monitoring alarms in just one month, researchers at UC San Francisco have, for the first time, comprehensively defined the detailed causes as well ...

User comments