How Advertising Influences Food Choices

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Food advertising is aimed to reach a wide range of people and age levels through various sources and platforms. Advertisements can easily sway one’s food choices, especially for adolescents and younger children. 

Food companies spend a lot of time and money to convince people to buy their products. In 2016, approximately $13.5 billion was spent on media advertising by more than 20,300 food, beverage, and restaurant companies according to the American Heart Association’s Fact Sheet. 

Because advertising is so prevalent in our daily lives, they have a significant influence on society and people’s actions. The advertising slogans are based on an emotional/psychological appeal rather than nutrition — pleasure gives you energy and great flavor. We also don’t realize that advertising’s goal isn’t necessarily to promote a good product but rather to persuade consumers to buy a product that has proven tough to sell.

Common marketing techniques used in food advertisement can include:

  • Health or nutrient claims 
  • Bright and eye-catching colors and photography
  • Memorable slogans, songs and jingles, or catchphrases
  • Free or exclusive prizes
  • Celebrities and cartoon characters as spokespeople
  • Sale or discount prices

Healthy behaviors start with you! Next time you see a food advertisement, try analyzing it. See if you can spot marketing techniques, how they make you feel, and if the food product or service being advertised is a healthful choice. Spending time together as a whole family through cooking, grocery shopping, taking trips to the farmers market, meal planning, or reading the Nutrition Facts label are all excellent ways to learn more about food and become educated consumers.

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