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Appetite. 2013 Mar;62:160-5. doi: 10.1016/j.appet.2012.12.001. Epub 2012 Dec 8.

What foods are US supermarkets promoting? A content analysis of supermarket sales circulars.

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  • 126 Nichol Avenue, Nutritional Sciences Department, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, New Brunswick, NJ 08901, USA.


This study compared the types of foods advertised in supermarket newspaper circulars across geographic region (US Census regions: northeast [n=9], midwest [n=15], south [n=14], and west [n=13]), obesity-rate region (i.e., states with CDC adult obesity rates of <25% [n=14], 25 to <30% [n=24], and ≥ 30% [n=13]), and with MyPlate recommendations. All food advertisements on the first page of each circular were measured (±0.12-in.) to determine the proportion of space occupied and categorized according to food group. Overall, ≥ 50% of the front page of supermarket sales circulars was devoted to protein foods and grains; fruits, vegetables, and dairy, combined, were allocated only about 25% of the front page. The southern geographic region and the highest obesity-rate region both devoted significantly more advertising space to sweets, particularly sugar-sweetened beverages. The lowest obesity-rate region and western geographic region allocated the most space to fruits. Vegetables were allocated the least space in the western geographic region. Grains were the only food group represented in ads in proportions approximately equal to amounts depicted in the MyPlate icon. Protein foods exceeded and fruits, dairy, and vegetables fell below comparable MyPlate proportional areas. Findings suggest supermarket ads do not consistently emphasize foods that support healthy weight and MyPlate recommendations. More research is needed to determine how supermarket newspaper circulars can be used to promote healthy dietary patterns.

Copyright © 2012 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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