360MC: Research & Development – Food Representation In Media

On average, approximately a third of all screen time related to food. Alcohol was the largest food group consumed in all programmes, with sweet and/or fat foods the next most frequent food group consumed. To previous studies, food advertisements were not the dominant advertisement type during air time of soap operas. The food ads however, sweet, fat and/or alcoholic content dominated in three out of the four commercial in television programmes, namely Emmerdale, Hollyoaks and Home and Away.

When studying a theory, the continual display of images of alcohol and sweet or fat foods consumption may result in small hidden messages being absorbed by viewers. This form of passive viewership may tilt viewer’s versions of reality, whereby viewers are handed these images as a normal part of everyday nutrition. further research is needed whereby individual viewers of television programs are studied in relation to their attitude, beliefs and judgements regarding healthy eating issues.

(Marks & Spensers, 2014)

Current UK and World Health Organisation (WHO, 2003) guidelines state that for healthy eating, a balanced diet should be consumed based on starchy foods and incorporate at least five portions of fruit and vegetables a day, which equates to 400g.

The popularity of ready meals and snacks increasing, the potential for consuming higher levels of free sugars and salt is also on the rise. Guidelines for good health also suggest that the free sugar content of the diet be no greater than 10% and salt intake should be reduced to a maximum of 6g a day.

Television is an artificial piece of technology showcasing images and messages that has become an everyday part of life over the last 50 years or more. People growing up with television today are exposed to imagery unknown decades before. For example, a viewer watching repeated images of people eating hamburgers and chips may come to accept that this is a normal and healthy part of an everyday diet.

(McDonalds, 2016)

There is concern that television might promote unhealthy behaviour in some individuals. This may be in the form of poor eating habits, aggression or health issues. The basis for concern is that television may be used as a passive learning tool without realising the effect it has on the viewers.

Over the past 20 years food and alcohol in particular have been criticised for portraying contradictory images in television and advertising, guidelines for healthy food and alcohol consumption. Frequently characters at odds with the given message accompany these images. For example, fast food restaurants and snack foods are often advertised by fit and healthy looking characters implying health benefits to eating their products, when the food advertised is often highly refined, high in fat, salt and calories. It communicates the message that the advertised food is good to eat on a regular basis without contributing towards poor health.

(Blaze Pizza, 2016)

Home and Away televised the highest amount of screen time with background food (21%); Hollyoaks had the most background alcohol screen time (10%); Home and Away was highest for characters eating, while Emmerdale had the highest lev el of alcohol drinking (15%)

Food and eating have been shown to appear regularly in most television programs. On average a third of all scenes included food and/or drinks, either in the background or being consumed by characters. The food content did not resemble balance at all. Instead it implied that characters mainly survived on a diet of alcohol, sweet and fat food. On the whole when characters drank a non-alcoholic drink, it was in the form of a sweet fizzy drink.

(The Big Bang Theory, 2012)

Television not only provides imagery that may be at odds with public health initiatives, it also embraces current trends, particularly those related to food. While these images may not be as frequent at present as the more ‘unhealthy’ representations of food, they are indeed a part of many television settings. It is possible that television writers are simply reflecting the current mood, rather than causing current trends.

The growing rates of nutrition related chronic diseases and the ambiguity concerning media effects, further investigation is called for to assess the relationship between the actual viewer and their food and alcohol consumption.

Sexualisation Of Food

McDonalds Burger Ad

Topics of discussion
Language: Sexual connotations
-The use of puns
– Sultry & sexual tone
– First person
“check out my dimensions”
“but can you handle me?”

Image: A burger on a bed
– Inviting
– Focus on burger & text
– Colour red: romance, sex, love
– Logo in the corner

(McDonalds Canada, 2012)


Blaze Pizza, (2016). LeBron James Is Blaze Pizza’s Newest Team Member. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VF5jXrZfuCA [Accessed 16 Oct. 2016].

Marks & Spensers, (2014). Adventures In Imagination: M&S Food – TV Ad 2014. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PZ4pctQMdg4 [Accessed 16 Oct. 2016].

McDonalds Canada, (2012). Behind the scenes at a McDonald’s photo shoot. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oSd0keSj2W8 [Accessed 16 Oct. 2016].

Mcdonalds, (2016). McDonalds Advert 2016. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R2ja8w81W-Q [Accessed 16 Oct. 2016].

The Big Bang Theory, (2012). Takeout With The Cast Of The Big Bang Theory. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EBqvBFuOagY [Accessed 16 Oct. 2016].



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s