Ads for fruits, vegetables and dairy take up an average of 25% of the front page of supermarket sales circulars.
By contrast, about half of the front page of the typical circular is made up of ads for protein foods and grains, according to a new study by researchers in the nutritional sciences department at Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey.
Researchers studied the effects geography and obesity rates in different regions had on circular ads.
In the South and in regions with high obesity rates, retailers devoted significantly more advertising space to non-fruit sweets, particularly sugary beverages, according to the study.
In the West and in regions with low obesity rates, circulars were more likely to advertise fruit on the front page.
Vegetables were allocated the least space in circulars in the West.
The study also measured how closely circulars track the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s MyPlate recommendations.
Grains are the only food group that meet MyPlate proportions. Protein ads exceed MyPlate proportions and fruit, vegetable and dairy ads fall short, according to the study.
“Findings suggest supermarket ads do not consistently emphasize foods that support healthy weight and MyPlate recommendations,” according to the study. “More research is needed to determine how supermarket newspaper circulars can be used to promote healthy dietary patterns.”