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Eating What You Watch

A study published this month in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association, says if you follow a diet based on the food advertised on television you won’t get the proper nutrients.

Basically you will consume 25x the recommended amount of sugar, 20x the amount of fat and not nearly enough fruits or vegetables. (That’s less than half the recommendation)

Just one advertised food item by itself will provide, on average, 3x your daily recommended servings of sugar and 2.5x the fat

The study looked at 2004 primetime and Saturday-morning programming on all four major networks. Primetime because most of the nationwide advertising is done during this time; Saturday morning to see what the kiddies were watching.

And to no one’s surprise, it seems what you are watching is influencing what you are eating. According to the 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, we consumed too much saturated fat, cholesterol, sodium and added sugars, all of which were oversupplied in advertised foods. And the food that was undersupplied in the ads? Calcium, potassium, fiber, magnesium, vitamin A and vitamin E were not eaten enough.

Researchers also noted that not a single PSA addressed nutrition education (maybe it is time for a Kellogg or General Mills to get on that?).

And if education doesn’t work…maybe we go the route of NYC restaurants and include fat content and calories in the ads for specific foods. But then again…who is watching ads anyway?

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