A new study says people whose eating habits are influenced by television ads are developing habits that lead to weight gain and malnourishment. The TV audience is likely to have an extremely unbalanced diet, with excessive amounts of fats and sugar and minimal fruits and vegetables.
Published in the June issue of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association, the study compared the nutritional content of food choices influenced by TV to nutritional guidelines for a healthy, balanced diet. Investigators found that a 2,000-calorie diet consisting entirely of advertised foods would have 25 times the recommended servings of sugars and 20 times the recommended servings of fat, but less than half of the recommended servings of vegetables, dairy, and fruits. The excess of servings in sugars and fat is so large that, on average, eating just one of the observed food items would provide more than three times the recommended daily servings for sugars and two and a half times the recommended amount for fat for the entire day.
“The results of this study suggest the foods advertised on television tend to oversupply nutrients associated with chronic illness (e.g., saturated fat, cholesterol, and sodium) and undersupply nutrients that help protect against illness (e.g., fiber, vitamins A, E, and D, calcium, and potassium),” according to lead investigator Michael Mink, PhD, Assistant Professor and MPH Program Coordinator, Armstrong Atlantic State University, Savannah, Ga.
The article indicates that the observed food items fail to comply with Food Guide Pyramid recommendations in every food group except grains. The average observed food item contained excessive servings of sugars, fat, and meat and inadequate servings of dairy, fruit and vegetables. The situation was similar for essential nutrients, with the observed foods oversupplying eight nutrients: protein, selenium, sodium, niacin, total fat, saturated fat, thiamin and cholesterol. These same foods undersupplied 12 nutrients: iron, phosphorus, vitamin A, carbohydrates, calcium, vitamin E, magnesium, copper, potassium, pantothenic acid, fiber, and vitamin D.