This is the time of year when you can expect to see more crowded gyms and fewer crowded snack aisles, as many people resolve to lose weight and eat better in the new year and make a change for improved health. However, now is also the time when you’re more likely to notice ads and marketing for foods claiming to be low in fat, high in fiber, whole grain, organic or something else to let you know that this is the product you must eat in your quest for health.
Every year, people are sabotaged by these messages because they don’t ask the right questions or believe that what they see on the packaging or in advertisements must be true. But the fact is that advertising in the United States is almost entirely self-regulated, and while some companies do get in trouble for misleading ad statements (like when General Mills was sued last year for marketing Froot by the Foot as health food). Unfortunately for consumers, a lot of companies still manage to exploit loopholes in both the Food and Drug Administration and the Federal Trade Commission. Take a look:
If you’re looking to get healthy, you need to get educated too. Read food labels carefully, and do some basic research to make sure you’re making the right choices to meet your goals–websites like LiveStrong and WebMD are great places to start; you can also learn more about food marketing at the Yale Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity. Then, once you get the facts, apply your knowledge and critical thinking skills to breaking down commercials, like we did in LAMPlatoon for the General Mills commercial above. Send us your video, and we’ll share your findings with the world to spread the message about health and advertising literacy!