Research: Avoid food from commercials.

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Food Commercials Focus on Selling Food and Not on Your Health.  

Potato Chips
Potato Chips

Every commercial we see on TV is directed at the sale of a product. It doesn’t matter whether his Weight Watchers or Nutrisystem’s, the intent is to sell a product.   There are a lot of fat diets out there, and most of them do not work for long-term weight loss.  Each commercial diet may work for a short period but the plan is pretty much to make your wallet a little lighter, and they are successful at that.  In my desperation to find a solution, I have tried them, and there is no magic to any of these diets.  Most of the fad diets are meant to do no more than making a profit.  Save your money and prep your food.  

Personal responsibility is a significant part of weight loss.  You must take responsibility for your habits and change them.  It will take determination, and a little willpower to be successful.  I acknowledge that weight gain is more than just a lack of willpower, but in losing weight, willpower is a must.  Outside of these two items, you must make healthy food choices.  Making healthy choices is impaired by our exposure to television commercials.  

I recently found research that provides evidence to support this belief[1].  The two studies looked at elementary-school-aged children who watched a cartoon that contained either food advertising or advertising for other products and received a snack while watching.  In Experiment 2, adults watched a television program that included food advertising that promoted snacking and fun product benefits, food advertising that promoted nutrition benefits or no food advertising. The adults then tasted and evaluated a range of healthy to unhealthy snack foods in an apparently separate experiment.   The studies revealed that children consumed 45% more when exposed to food advertising.  Adults consumed more of both healthy and unhealthy snack foods following exposure to snack food advertising compared to the other conditions.  In both experiments, food advertising increased consumption of products not in the presented advertisements, and these effects were not related to reported hunger or other conscious influences.

There is also research to back up commercials influencing healthy choices[2].  One study looked at school age children exposed to a commercial cartoon character called “Reggie the Veggie” who promoted the intake of broccoli and carrots.  The study found that this significantly increased healthy choices. 

The bottom line: Food advertising on television increases automatic snacking on available foods in children and adults.  Data suggest that commercials promote snack consumption even with vegetables.  You do not need any help to prime the pump of choices.  If you are dieting, I recommend that you consider either skipping commercials or exercising during them.  Although there is no research to back up exercise during commercials, it is hard to eat when you are doing calisthenics.  Unfortunately, there are not a lot of vegetable advertisements on TV.  

[1]Harris, Bargh, and Brownell, “Priming Effects of Television Food Advertising on Eating Behavior.”
[2]Nicklas et al., “Impact of Commercials on Food Preferences of Low-Income, Minority Preschoolers.”


  1. Harris, Jennifer L., John A. Bargh, and Kelly D. Brownell. “Priming Effects of Television Food Advertising on Eating Behavior.” Health Psychology 28, no. 4 (2009): 404–13. doi: 10.1037/a0014399
  2. Nicklas, Theresa A., Eugenia Tsuei Goh, L. Suzanne Goodell, Daniel S. Acuff, Robert Reiher, Richard Buday, and Allison Ottenbacher. “Impact of Commercials on Food Preferences of Low-Income, Minority Preschoolers.” Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior 43, no. 1 (January 2011): 35–41. doi: 10.1016/j.jneb.2009.11.007
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About the Author

I am a family physician who has served in the US Army. In 2016, I found myself overweight, out of shape, and unhealthy, so I made a change to improve my health. This blog is the chronology of my path to better health and what I have learned along the way.

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