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Block the Snack-Food Blitz During the Super Bowl

Block the Snack-Food Blitz During the Super Bowl

Gary Bennett offers some tips for a good defense against the influence of snack food commercials 

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Editor's Note: You can watch Super Bowl commercials from this year and the past at these websites: http://superbowl-ads.com/article_archive/; http://superbowlads.fanhouse.com/2010/; http://www.superbowl-commercials.org/cat/2001-to-2010/2002.

Durham, NC - Tom Brady and Eli Manning aren't the only ones with a lot on the line in this Sunday's Super Bowl contest.

Advertisers of the annual sporting ritual hope to lure millions of viewers into buying their pizza, beer, tacos, cars, soda, chips and more.

Viewers have come to expect memorable performances from the likes of the E-Trade Baby, Darth Vader and Ozzy Osbourne in the highly creative -- and expensive -- TV commercials that air throughout the game.

"With all of the competition for our attention these days, marketers are trying harder than ever to reach us on Super Bowl Sunday," says Gary Bennett, associate professor of psychology and global health at Duke. "Last year more than 11 million people watched the Super Bowl, and this year companies will be paying up to $4 million for each 30-second spot."

Bennett, who also directs the Duke Obesity Prevention Program, says that along with the laughs and viral videos these commercials generate each year, there's also a negative aspect: Snack food commercials, and lots of them.

In 2011, 28 percent of the ads shown during the Super Bowl were from snack food and beverage companies, Bennett says. He expects to see even more this year, with many of the commercials showing vastly larger portion sizes than most people should consume.

The commercials will also show people eating directly out of a container -- another no-no for good health. Studies consistently show you're likely to consume more calories when eating directly from the container compared to eating from a serving you've poured into a bowl, Bennett says.

Not convinced? One serving of Doritos is only 11 chips. After three servings, you will have eaten a quarter of your daily calories, according to Bennett. He also warns parents to shield their kids from snack food commercials because of their negative influence on children's eating habits.

"Food industry advertising has come under attack from federal regulators and some in the scientific community, because of mounting research evidence of its influence on our waistlines, particularly among children," Bennett says.

Finally, Bennett offers this bit of advice:

"Don't be surprised if it feels like Super Bowl food ads are trying to pique your senses," he says. "Marketers know that you'll be more likely to buy their products when they show you images of happy, attractive people snacking on visually appealing foods while in social situations.

"It just so happens that those same types of images can lead to overeating, particularly if you're a man or someone who is dieting."

Bennett offers tips for protecting yourself against the influence of snack food ads during the Super Bowl.

More Information

Contact: Steve Hartsoe
Affiliation: News and Communications
Phone: (919) 681-4515

More Information

Contact: Steve Hartsoe
Affiliation: News and Communications
Phone: (919) 681-4515