Document Type



Master of Science (MS)


Dietetics and Nutrition

First Advisor's Name

Katharine R. Curry

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Chair

Second Advisor's Name

Susan P. Himburg

Third Advisor's Name

Nancy Wellman


Advertising, Food, United States, Television advertising

Date of Defense



Television (TV) reaches more people than any other medium which makes it an important source of health information. Since TV ads often offer information obliquely, this study investigated implied health messages found in food and nutrition TV ads. The goals were to determine the proportion of food and nutrition ads among all TV advertising and to use content analysis to identify their implied messages and health claims.

A randomly selected sample of TV ads were collected over a 28-day period beginning May 8, 1987. The sample contained 3547 ads; 725 (20%) were food-related. All were analyzed. About 10% of food-related TV ads contained a health claim.

Twenty-five representative ads of the 725 food ads were also reviewed by 10 dietitians to test the reliability of the instrument. Although the dietitians agreed upon whether a health claim existed in a televised food ad, their agreement was poor when evaluating the accuracy of the claim.

The number of food-related ads dropped significantly on Saturday, but the number of alcohol ads rose sharply on Saturday and Sunday. Snack ads were shown more often on Thursday, but snack commercials were also numerous on Saturday morning and afternoon, as were cereal ads. Ads for snack foods accounted for the greatest proportion of ads (20%) while fast food accounted for only 7%. Alcohol constituted about 9% of all food and nutrition ads.





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