By Michael Crupain, MD, MPH
Public Health professionals can often be heard saying that education is not effective at getting people to change their behaviors. This sounds pretty reasonable, especially when you consider that the majority of American’s are overweight, yet for over 100 years people have been taught that eating healthy and staying active is the best way to maintain a healthy weight. There is a form of education however that is very effective--advertising.
Food advertising is ubiquitous and has become part of our environment. We are constantly bombarded with images to “educate” and lure us into eating unhealthy foods. Ads are designed not just to inform us about how good a product is, but also to get us to associate that product with certain traits or lifestyles that we desire. This messaging helps to build brand loyalty, so that we prefer one brand to another even though in reality there may be little difference between them.