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Content Analysis of TV Food Advertising Using Climate Impact and a Nutritional Impact Index

Annala, Milla, Vinnari, Markus
Ecological economics 2019 v.159 pp. 68-74
breads, cheeses, climate, environmental indicators, food advertising, nutritive value, public health, television, yogurt
In this study, we conducted a comprehensive content analysis of the distribution of television advertising time among various food items from the perspective of sustainability. We employed the food item sustainability index published by van Dooren et al. in 2017 that uses climate impact as the ecological indicator and nutritional characteristics as the public health indicator. For a period of 12 months, we videotaped advertisement from two most popular Finnish channels 24 hours of television broadcasting per day on the third day of every month. We identified a total of 2,394 food commercials. We analysed a total of 742 minutes of food advertising time. We found that commercials were dominated by three food items: yogurt (16 per cent of advertising time), bread (14%) and cheese (10%). The food items with the lowest climate impact and highest positive nutritional characteristics received only seven per cent of the total advertising time and the ones with the highest climate impact and lowest nutritional characteristics received 29 per cent. Our results indicate that food advertising on television is not beneficial seen from a sustainability perspective. Regulation – or even banning – of advertising for most harmful food items should be considered.