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Trends in US prime‐time television food advertising across three decades

Carol Byrd‐Bredbenner (Carol Byrd‐Bredbenner is Professor of Nutrition at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, NJ, USA.)
Darlene Grasso (Darlene Grassois a Master’s Candidate at Montclair State University, NJ, USA.)

Nutrition & Food Science

ISSN: 0034-6659

Article publication date: 1 April 2000


The purpose of this study was to describe the content of food advertisements broadcast during prime‐time network programs and determine what changes have occurred over the last 30 years. The sample comprised foods advertisements (N = 38, N = 31, N = 91, N = 105, N = 108) from 1971, 1977, 1988, 1992 and 1998, respectively. Of the commercials shown in 1977, 1988, 1992 and 1998, 31, 35, 20, and 15 per cent, respectively, were for food advertisements (data were unavailable for 1971). Using simple linear regression, the hourly rate for total commercials is increasing significantly (p = 0.04) by 1.4 commercials per hour each year. However, the hourly rate for food advertisements is not changing over time in a statistically significant fashion. There is very strong evidence of an association between the type of food advertised and year (chi‐square = 62.691, p < 0.001). The top four categories contributing to the chi‐square are: restaurants, low‐nutrient beverages, protein‐rich foods, and breads and cereals which, together, account for 75 per cent of the chi‐square value. For the past three decades, the “prime‐time diet” has comprised mostly low nutrient density foods that are promoted by slender, healthy actors.



Byrd‐Bredbenner, C. and Grasso, D. (2000), "Trends in US prime‐time television food advertising across three decades", Nutrition & Food Science, Vol. 30 No. 2, pp. 59-66.




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