Dealing with the Glut of Fast-Food Ads on TV

By , SparkPeople Blogger
Lately, I've had a hankering for a Pizza Hut pizza. Nothing too surprising about that. But my hankering is for “a Pizza Hut any-size pizza for $10” pizza.
I've also been yearning to unlock the box and dive into a Taco Bell $5 “Big Box Remixed” meal deal  and maybe a couple of those adorable little BK burger minis at Burger King.
Mmmm... or maybe I want a Subway $5 foot-long sandwich... or, perhaps a Dunkin' Donuts frozen hot chocolate or a caramel and mocha iced coffee.
Sorry for my meanderings, but I tend to watch a bit of TV when I am not tied to my computer. And, if you recognized all those fast food menu items that I just mentioned, odds are, you too share a bit of your time with the telly.
Ads featuring the fast food items I mentioned have been running on the hour – if not more frequently. But maybe it's because I am a hopeless channel changer who happens to catch them on multiple stations back to back.
Or maybe not.
I surfed the Web for a bit and found these eye-opening and waist-widening stats; it's Chapter 9 of a government report titled “Food Advertising in the United States” by Anthony E. Gallo.
The meat of the chapter notes: Food manufacturers spent $7 billion in advertising in 1997 – and television was the favorite medium with over 75% of that $7 billion spent on TV ads. To add sauce to injury: fast-food restaurants allocated over 95% of their budgets to television ads!
There's a term I learned a long time ago that really fits here. The term is “ad nauseum” which is  defined as “to a disgusting or ridiculous degree; to the point of nausea.” And surer than spit that's what this glut of fast food TV commercials has become.
Let's call it ad nausea... because I get sick to my stomach thinking about all that yummy-looking food that's calling out to me like the sirens did to the ancient mariners. Should I give in to their savory song my healthy eating will find itself on the rocks – and my resolve could end up broken beyond repair.
OK, so maybe that's a tad too dramatic. But why can't I enjoy a baseball game or a silly sitcom without being tempted to hop in my car and speed to the nearest fast food joint for a burger, fried chicken, sub or pizza?
So, what's so bad about watching one fast food ad after another?
A Nov. 8, 2010 TIME magazine feature noted, “Constant exposure to fast-food marketing helps normalize the kind of eating behavior associated with such restaurants. It makes outsized portions look normal and encourages snacking.”
Another stomach-turning stat that I found online: Kids in America are watching more than five fast food commercials per hour – and more than 70% of those ads feature fast food or sugary treats.
Is it any wonder childhood obesity rates are rising? Heck, is it any wonder why my weight stays on the high end of the scale?
So the question begs: What can we do about this glut of fast food commercials? Well, since we live in a nation that honors free speech, not much. So if we can't shut 'em up why don't we shut 'em off?
That works for me... sometimes. Since I am a notorious channel changer as soon as an ad pops up I am off to the next show or sporting event. It may not be the best way to fight back, but it does let me avoid the close-ups of  the fast food that's been doctored to make it look irresistible. Did you ever buy a fast food meal that looks as good as the ones you see on the TV ads? Me neither.
Here's another idea. You've probably heard of “drinking games” which usually involve gulping a shot of booze every time a certain phrase is uttered on a movie or TV show.
Let's create a “shrinking game” and every time a fast food commercial appears we'll drop to the floor for push-ups or sit-ups! Or we can keep a few dumbbells – or a treadmill – near the TV and exercise with them during the commercial breaks.
It's a thought. Too bad it's not as tempting as actually making a run for the border and having it my way at a fast food joint.
What is your best advice for avoiding fast-food ads?