The old saying used to go ‘you are what you eat,’ but now the media wants that saying to be ‘you are what you see.’
News outlets from Time to Business Week picked up on a study released June 1 by the Journal of American Dietetic Association (abstract here, full article is only available for members-only) claiming that food television ads promote unhealthy diets. The study found that advertised food surpassed “government recommended” daily amounts of fat by 20 percent and had 25 percent more salt than “recommended.”
These results spurred this enlightened conclusion Time magazine’s Alice Parker:
“The study's findings may not be revelatory to anyone with even a vague understanding of a proper diet, but they do remind us that television and mass-media messages wield great influence over our behavior.”
The study also showed that advertisers spend $11.3 billion “hawking their products” while the government’s own U.S Department of Agriculture only spends $268 million on nutritional education.
Parker continued to ignore individual responsibility in food choices, presenting advertisers as solely responsible for “government disapproved” diets. But for liberals, who believe the public are easily duped victims in need of government guidance, Parker found a silver lining in the words of study leader Michael Mink:
“They [advertisers] also offer hope, says Mink; if advertising can entice people to choose unhealthy foods, it might also be co-opted to push people toward fruits, vegetables and other natural or less processed options.”
Since the majority of media outlets make money from advertising, it’s ironic that they continually bash advertisers, specifically food advertisers. Whether it’s CNN attacking internet ads, NBC deriding ads targeted at children, or the frequent erroneous hand-wringing about rising obesity rates, the media never stops feasting on advertisements long enough to consider individual choice as a reason for poor eating habits.