Teenagers today face a cornucopia of some 30,000 products each time they step into a grocery store thanks to the twentieth century and its related food technology. After entering these behemoth buildings, many inexperienced shoppers are overwhelmed by the variety of choices in frozen, canned, dehydrated, fresh, and processed foods. What should you buy? What’s really healthy? What’s safe? These are important questions because what you eat is one of the major influences on how healthy you are now and how healthy you will be as you age.
Some of the factors that shape what you buy are family preferences, convenience, and advertising. Just how much of what we eat is influenced by advertising? Advertisements are everywhere: in expected places like television and radio, but also in unexpected places like shopping carts, food products, and even inside grocery packaging. Plus, advertisers recognize the growing wealth in the youth market. U.S. teenagers spent $153 billion on everything from clothing to food in 1999, a figure 8% higher than the 1998 figure of $141 billion. Those numbers were reported in the Spring 2000/Wave 35 Teenage Marketing and Lifestyle Study conducted and released by the Illinois-based Teenage Research Unlimited (TRU). TRU is a marketing-research firm that specializes in surveying teen attitudes. Another interesting finding from this study shows