The power of advertising is very strong and if the food industry markets a product as a solution; for example, to save time or help us loose weight; most of us would take it wouldn’t we?

As consumers we decide which foods to buy for three reasons: taste, value and health, but the food industry would have us believe that it is taste and health that are important.  Fruit and vegetables are healthy and most of them taste good, but there is not much of a mark up on fresh produce, so the food manufacturers concentrate on foods that have been processed which adds commercial value and gives them a hefty profit margin.

Take corn or bran for instance in its purist form.  It is healthy, low in fat and rich in nutrients, but it is not the first thing that comes to mind when you think of breakfast is it?  But if the corn or bran is picked, processed and then packaged, it becomes a high value appealing breakfast cereal.

There is a well known brand of breakfast cereal that suggests replacing two meals a day with their cereal will help you lose weight.  As consumers we buy into this idea because the product is offering a solution! But just think about it for a minute; a main meal contains more substance than a bowl of cereal so of course you would loose weight, but you could not last on that for very long, as it would be lacking the nutrients your body requires to keep going throughout the day.  It also says it is low in fat, which we subliminally think is good  because we aware that too many full fat foods are bad for us, but what the consumer does not realise is that it is loaded with sugar to make the product taste nice.  So indeed the product  is low fat, but it is definitely not healthy as it contains a high amount of sugar!

If you need to have something quick and easy for breakfast then you need to start reading the ingredients list on the packaging!  The best cereals are those that contain no fat or sugar and have one main ingredient, like the one Ian Botham used to advertise for a healthy heart!  Yes they taste very bland but you can always add flavour with some natural yogurt and fresh fruit like blueberries.  Not only are these cereals high in fiber, they will keep you fuller for longer and stave of the hunger pangs.  The sugary cereals will be used up by your body very quickly and you will be hungry again enticing you to chose those unhealthy snacks!

Next week I will blog further on how advertising affects how we eat, so stay tuned!

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