UACES Facebook Resisting the Temptation of Food Advertising
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Resisting the Temptation of Food Advertising

3 tips to make sound decisions on what foods you buy - don't let the food ads and grocery stores sabotage your health!

Searcy, Ark. – 

Do you feel like your family is ALWAYS hungry?  Snack, snack, snack! And what they snack on probably isn’t that healthy. 

What a wonderful world it would be if food was advertised equally. As you watch television tonight, count the number of commercials you see for food.  Then count how many of those foods tend to have high calorie counts and low nutritional value.   

Promoting fast food and junk food is big business.  Billions of dollars a year are spent in an attempt to get you to choose their burger or chip over their competitors. These highly advertised foods are plentiful, easy to get, inexpensive, and engineered to taste good. 

Unfortunately, there is little advertising to promote the foods we should be eatingwhole grains, vegetables and fruits, low fat dairy products, beans and legumes.  If asked to name a healthy food campaign, it might take a few minutes to come up with one.  But if asked to name a fast food, or junk food campaign, chances are one immediately pops into your head. 

Is it possible to maintain a healthy weight in spite of all the pressure to eat unhealthy foods?  Yes!  Some simple tips to follow include: 

Empower yourself to make healthier choices.  If you are in a situation where you need to eat and the only option for you is to eat something from a fast food restaurant or convenience store, you need to know ahead of time how to choose the healthiest option.  Search for fresh foods like salads and sandwiches with lean meat and vegetables.  Always remember grilled over fried, and go easy on dressing, mayo, and other high calorie toppings, or have them on the side so you can control how much you use.   

Another way to empower yourself is to choose wisely.  If you only go grocery shopping once every week or two (as recommended now!), choose more healthy foods and fewer unhealthy snacks.  DO make sure you have plenty of fresh fruit, vegetables, and dairy products for snacks.  Grapes, carrots, low-fat string cheese, oranges, apples, celery, grape tomatoes, low-fat milk – these are all great choices to keep on hand.  If your family rarely eats a healthy snack, chances are they weren’t hungry to begin with but just bored.  Find other ways, besides food, to fight boredom. 

Be an informed shopper.  You wouldn’t even think about buying a car without shopping around first, so why not treat your body better, since you only have one of them.  After you see an ad for junk food, check out the manufacturers or restaurants web site to get the nutritional information.  When you see how many calories, fat grams, or sodium the food has and how little fiber, you might just change your mind about putting that food into your body. 

Always question the ads.  Just because it is on television, or the internet, does not make it true. Would you be as tempted to order that cheeseburger if the person advertising it was an overweight, out of shape model which would be more realistic, than a pencil thin, fit, happy-looking person?  Ask yourself, if the food is really the best choice for you and your waistline. Chances are the answer will be a resounding “NO.”  If you do decide that you must have that cheeseburger, then order from the children’s menu, or eat half and take the other half home for later. 

Grocery stores can be just as dangerous as fast food restaurants.  Stick to the perimeter of the store and make wise choices.  The most heavily advertised, processed foods are located in the inner aisles of the store.  To avoid temptation, avoid the snack & processed food aisles all together.  Or, before going down an inner aisle, choose exactly which product you will get and stick to it (such as low-fat popcorn instead of cookies).  The perimeter aisles are where you want to be.  However, be sure you make smart choices there too.  Managers are getting wise to this fact and are beginning to place not so healthy choices next to the fruits and vegetables.  Have you noticed the chocolate dip next to the strawberries? 

Remember, the closer a food is to its whole state, the healthier it is in general.  Fill your basket with the most colorful, and healthy choices you can find for instance; deep green romaine lettuce – instead of iceberg, red cabbage – instead of green, whole grain breads – instead of white, lean meats – instead of fatty. 

Advertisers hire food stylists to make foods appear better than they actually are.  Food stylists are like make-up artists; it’s their job to make the foods look appealing.  So, resist the temptation of food advertisers if you can. 

If you would like to receive more information on following a healthy diet, contact our office at the University of Arkansas, Cooperative Extension Service in White County, at 2400 Old Searcy Landing Road, Searcy ARThe University of Arkansas System, Division of Agriculture is an equal opportunity/equal access/affirmative action institution You can also call 501-268-5394 or e-mail me at and be sure to  follow Katie on Facebook @ uaex white county fcs . 


By Katie Cullum
County Extension Agent - FCS
The Cooperative Extension Service
U of A System Division of Agriculture

Media Contact: Katie Cullum
County Extension Agent - FCS
U of A Division of Agriculture
Cooperative Extension Service
2400 Old Searcy Landing Road Searcy AR 72143
(501) 268-5394


The Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service is an equal opportunity/equal access/affirmative action institution. If you require a reasonable accommodation to participate or need materials in another format, please contact your County Extension office (or other appropriate office) as soon as possible. Dial 711 for Arkansas Relay.

The Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service offers its programs to all eligible persons regardless of race, color, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, religion, age, disability, marital or veteran status, genetic information, or any other legally protected status, and is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.