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respecting our bodies
EAT & DRINK ORGANIC
healthy fast foods | US food advertising | delhi students


GET YOUR SNACK! US FOOD ADVERTISING

source: M. Story, D. Neumark-Sztainer,S. French, “Individual and
environmental influences on adolescent eating behaviors”,
in Journal of theAmerican Dietetic
Association, March,2002.

www.ijbnpa.org/content/1/1/3

image: Carmichael-Linch, USA

US food advertising
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intro: in the United States an increasingly large number of people eat too much: 55% of the population is overweight, and 14% of children are obese. Most people get their ‘nutrition education’ not from government pamphlets or teachers in the classroom. Their eating habits are shaped by what's available -in fast food restaurants, cafeterias, snack bars and… by advertising.

high exposure: there is increasing evidence of the effects of advertising on adolescents’ health behaviours. Given the high exposure to media, many mass communication experts list mass media as equal in importance to other socialisation agents (e.g. parents, schools, churches) in the lives of US adolescents. During the past decade, adolescents have caught the attention of marketers and are now the target of more intense and specialised marketing efforts than ever before. Why?

spending power: adolescents have tremendous discretionary spending power and spend about $140 billion a year. About 15% of this spending is for fast foods and snacks. Adolescents influence their parents’ spending: they directly influence about $19.6 billion grocery purchases each year.

advertising: the US food marketing system is the second-largest advertiser in the economy (after the automobile industry) and a leading supporter of media networks: about $25 billion are spent annually on food & drink advertising. The reasons that the food advertising market is so large include the following: - food captures 12.5% of US consumer spending and so there is vigorous competition, - food is a repeat-purchase item and consumers' views can change quickly, and - food is one of the most highly branded items, which lends itself to major advertising: over 80% of US grocery products are branded.

so much money: multi-billion dollar food advertising campaigns influence people's food choices, but usually not their nutritional benefit. Most of the advertising focuses on highly packaged and processed foods. Advertising expenditures on fruits and vegetables are negligible. Just a few examples to better understand where advertisers invest more:
  • from 1997-1998, total advertising annual expenditures for breakfast cereals were $792 million; candy and gum, $765 million; soft drinks, $549 million; and snacks, $330 million. Total expenditure for confectionery and snacks was $1 billion.


  • McDonald’s spent $571 million, Burger King spent $407 million, and Coca-Cola spent $277 million.
so little money: in contrast, in 1997 the US Department of Agriculture spent $333 million on nutrition education, evaluation, and demonstrations.
  • USDA’s Nutrition Education and Training (NET) program, which was intended to provide funds to the states for state and local agency programs to provide nutrition education to schools, has been unfounded for 2 years;


  • the food industry advertising expenditures dwarf the National Cancer Institute’s annual budget of $1 million for the educational component of the “Five A Day for Better Health” campaign to promote fruit and vegetable consumption. The ‘milk mustache’ and ‘Got Milk’ campaigns spent $29 million on advertising in 1996.

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