Eyal, Keren, and Tali Te’eni-Harari. “High on Attractiveness, Low on Nutrition: An Over-Time Comparison of Advertising Food Products on Israeli Television.” Health Communication (early view; online first).
This content analysis examines Israeli television food advertising. It compares 2008–2009 and 2012–2013, two periods immediately before and several years after regulatory, educational, and public-advocacy efforts have been advanced to raise awareness of and tackle the television–obesity link. Advertisements were drawn from a composite week sample aired on Israeli broadcast channels from 4:00 p.m. until midnight in each of the two periods. Nearly a quarter of ads were for food products, even after a significant drop over the years. The most common food categories included candies and sweetened drinks, whereas fruit and vegetables were among the least common products advertised. The most prevalent central message in food advertisements was that the product makes for an economically sensible purchase, with a much lower focus on the health qualities of the food products. Food advertisements were characterized by a very short duration and an increased reliance on emotional, rather than cognitive, appeal, especially in ads for low-nutrient foods. A significant increase was observed in 2012–2013 in the reliance on thin models in food advertisements, and these were most often associated with high levels of physical attractiveness, promoting the thin ideal. Findings are discussed in light of theory, previous research conducted worldwide, and audience effects. Implications are addressed for health and media industry regulation efforts.