Can advertisements trigger eating disorders? Maybe and General Mills Acts Responsibly About the Issue

The National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) commends General Mills for pulling a controversial television commercial for Yoplait yogurt off the air after NEDA voiced concerns that the commercial may encourage disordered eating behaviors.

The commercial shows a thin woman agonizing over the decision of whether or not to eat a piece of raspberry cheesecake. Her internal dialogue shows her rationalizing the choice to eat a slice if she only ate celery sticks for dinner or if she jogged in place while eating it. This is typical of the type of bargaining and rationalizing about food choices conducted by sufferers of eating disorders every time they are confronted with a choice about food. When Lynn Grefe, president and CEO of NEDA and her colleagues first saw the commercial, what they saw wasn’t a woman making a healthy food choice, but one who was caught up in a compensatory exchange about food, Grefe said. “This felt like a 20 second look at the mind of somebody with an eating disorder.”

General Mills responded to the concerns by immediately taking the commercial off the air. Tom Forsythe, vice president of corporate communications for General Mills said, “[A]ny correlation was certainly unintentional. But if even a few people could take from the ad that mis-impression, then the right thing to do was to pull the ad-and we have.” In a public statement, Grefe thanked Yoplait and General Mills for addressing their concerns so quickly and stated, “I believe the company had no intent to harm and gained insight into a very serious issue that we hope will influence their marketing decisions in the future.”

To view the entire commercial and further commentary, go to:
National Eating Disorder Association (NEDA) website:

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