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If you were to eat only foods advertised on TV, you would consume more than 20 times the recommended amounts of fat and sugar, found a new study, but you'd get less than half of the fruits, vegetables and dairy products you need to fill out a balanced diet.
Commercials have long been criticized for pushing people toward unhealthy foods. The new study points out just how bad those skewed messages are to our health -- contributing to obesity, heart disease and more.
"The thing that really struck us is that this is a double whammy," said Michael Mink, a public health researcher at Armstrong Atlantic State University in Savannah, Ga. "You're getting too many of the things that are associated with a higher risk of illness and too few of the nutrients that are associated with protecting us from illness. It's the worst combination."
Television is the primary source of nutrition and health information in America, studies show, with more than $11 billion spent on food-related advertisements in 2004. The same year, the United States Department of Agriculture spent just two percent of that amount on nutrition education.