Advertising for food and dietary supplements in the print media in South Africa
Temple, Norman J.
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Objective: To survey advertisements for food and beverages, slimming products, and dietary supplements in South African magazines. Methods: We examined the 5 most popular magazines over one year. They are in 3 major languages (English, Afrikaans, and Xhosa). Results: We recorded 959 advertisements; 776 (80.9%) were for food and beverages, 86 (9.0%) for slimming products, and 97 (10.1%) for dietary supplements. The most common advertisements for food and beverages were for restaurants (n=126), supermarkets (119), alcoholic beverages (79), cereal products (59), confectionery items (59), vegetables (40), and fruit or fruit juices (29). Thirty-nine of them (4.1%) carried health claims; these were most common for dairy products (14), followed by non-alcoholic beverages (7), and meat and poultry (6). The most commonly mentioned health benefits were for healthy growth (18), performance claims (13), therapeutic claims (9), and non-serious risk reduction claims (6), and for and energy (6). The majority of health claims referred to iron (17), B vitamins (12), vitamins and minerals (11), essential fatty acids (11), and calcium (9). Conclusion: A fraction of advertisements were for healthy products (such as vegetables, fruit, and low-fat milk) but the large majorities were for unhealthy foods. Misleading advertisements for slimming products and dietary supplements are becoming common.