In short, the foods in circulars are not that healthy.
Even the ‘good’ news isn’t all that good, for example 20% of the vegetables are for potatoes, almost half of the grain are for sugar-added products and a quarter of the dairy are for milk based desserts. The breakdown graph is here
The nutritional content of Americans’ shopping carts is suboptimal despite federal dietary guidance, in this case, the MyPlate consumer icon which displays desired proportions of vegetables, fruits, dairy, grains and protein foods for consumption. Consumers mention print advertising—such as weekly sales circulars—frequently as influencing their grocery shopping decisions.
To examine and describe the relative proportions of advertised foods aggregated into the MyPlate food grouping system, a content analysis of 9 209 foods advertised in 52 weekly supermarket newspaper sales inserts in 2009 from a local grocery chain was conducted in a Midwestern community.
Overall, the protein foods group was most often represented in sales circulars (25% of total items), followed by grains (18%); dairy (10%); vegetables (8%) and fruits (7%). Less than 3% of sales advertisements were for dark green and red & orange vegetables. Over twice as much whole fruit versus 100% fruit juice was advertised (70% vs. 30%, respectively; P < 0.001). Significantly fewer protein foods and more grains than expected were advertised in the fall, and slightly more dark green vegetables were advertised in winter and spring than in summer and fall (P = 0.05).
The average American diet, including underconsumption of fruits and vegetables but overconsumption of protein foods, was reflected in the relative frequency of food groups advertised in weekly sales circulars. Modifying sales circulars to represent healthier food groups may preserve retail profits (considering these groups’ higher profit margin) while promoting adherence to federal dietary guidance.