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J Community Health. 1992 Dec;17(6):377-84.

Food commercials during television soap operas: what is the nutrition message?

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Beebe Medical Center, Lewes, DE.


Studies have examined food commercials appearing during daytime, prime time, and Saturday morning programming; none have evaluated commercials aired during soap operas. The purposes of this study were to examine the dietary composition of food products advertised during soap operas and the health and nutrition claims made on their behalf, using current dietary recommendations as a basis of evaluation. A total of 508 commercials videotaped during the top nine daytime serials for five consecutive days, were for food or beverage products. Most foods advertised were rated low in sugar, fat, sodium, and dietary fiber, and health and/or nutrition appeals occurred frequently. However, of the foods advertised as "low cholesterol," 77% were high in fat. Similarly, those foods advertised as low in saturated fat were high in total fat content. Forty-three percent of the food commercials promoting nutrition were for items such as flavored drinks with little nutrient value. Generally, the nutrition messages conveyed in these commercials supported current dietary recommendations, but the way in which the food products were promoted was often inconsistent and confusing, particularly in the area of fat. Nutrition educators need to address these inconsistencies when assisting consumers in interpreting television food advertising messages.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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