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TV food ads 'promote imbalanced diet'

Those who make food choices based on television advertisements are at health risk, says a new study which has found that the adverts only promote a very imbalanced diet.

world Updated: Jun 01, 2010 12:35 IST

Those who make food choices based on television advertisements are at health risk, says a new study which has found that the adverts only promote a very imbalanced diet.

Researchers found that a 2,000-calorie diet consisting entirely of advertised foods would contain some 25 times the recommended servings of sugars and 20 times the recommended servings of fat, but less than half of recommended servings of vegetables, dairy, and fruits.

In fact, 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 RDS for fat for the entire day.

"The results of the study suggest the foods advertised on television tend to oversupply nutrients associated with chronic illness (eg, saturated fat, cholesterol, and sodium) and undersupply nutrients that help protect against illness," lead researchers Prof Michael Mink of Armstrong Atlantic State University said.

The researchers analysed 84 hours of primetime and 12 hours of Saturday morning broadcast television over a 28-day period in 2004. ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC were sampled on a rotating basis to develop a complete profile of each network. The Saturday-morning cartoon segment (from 8.00 AM to 11.00 AM) was included to capture food advertisements marketed primarily to children.