The Super Bowl gets a bad rap when it comes to health. The typical viewer eats nearly a day's worth of calories and, since we're glued to the screen even during the commercials, sits for hours.
Speaking of those commercials, the coveted spots often sling beer, pizza, soda and more unhealthy fare. Even if you've made sure to make slim swaps to traditional recipes, research suggests that simply watching food commercials causes us to snack more.
But if you look closely enough, there may be some unexpected worth in those ads. We found some surprising (and disappointing) health messages in the following eight Super Bowl commercials.
1. Volkswagen 'The Dog Strikes Back'
We couldn't get enough of the adorable dog who resolves to make extra trips up and down the stairs and avoid processed meats in order to slim down to chase cars.
Even though we giggled at the idea of a pup sweating on the family treadmill, pet obesity is no laughing matter. More than half of American pets are overweight, according to Reuters, which puts them at risk for many weight-related health conditions humans face as well, like heart problems and joint pain.
2. Doritos - Sling Shot Baby
It doesn't take a genius to figure out that this is an example of what not to do with your child. A baby who is fired away in a slingshot could be at risk for shaken baby syndrome, which is a kind of traumatic brain injury that happens when the brain is shaken inside the baby's skull, according to the National Institutes of Health. Definitely not a safe thing to do.
Not to mention, Doritos aren't exactly the healthiest snack in the world ... but you already knew that.
3. Doritos - Missing Cat
So this dog is trying to bribe its owner to not say anything about the missing cat. But we at Healthy Living would've chosen a more healthy reward instead of Doritos -- perhaps some delicious Greek yogurt or baked kale chips?
4. Chevy - Apocalypse
No matter which brand of truck survives the apocalypse, you'll want to have stocked up on heartier fare than Twinkies for the end of the world.
Rumored to be most likely to survive the end of days (perhaps only outlasted by the cockroach), this Hostess Cakes snack contains 37 ingredients, not all of which sound like food.
In reality, the estimated shelf-life of a Twinkie is only 25 days, according to TLC. Still, we recommend stocking up on canned beans, fish and plenty of water instead.
5. Bud Light - Here We Go Dog
We're torn about little We Go, the rescue dog in this Budweiser ad.
On the one hand, adopting a rescue dog could save its life and make room for another dog to be rescued. You'll also help to fight pet overpopulation and, because many rescue dogs are older dogs, you'll get to skip the tough job of housebreaking your new pet. Adopting a new pet can keep you active, and give you a loyal new friend who will love you unconditionally.
That said, if you're going to be drinking, you could stand to take a few extra steps to go fetch the next round yourself -- every calorie burned counts! Not to mention your pet should be your pal, not your personal servant.
6. Kia Optima - Sandman - Sweet Dreams
Even though Kia would probably like us to take its sandman commercial as a sign that we should buy a new Optima, we interpreted it as a reminder to get enough sleep. We know from science that we dream the most during REM, which happens about 90 minutes after the onset of sleep, according to WebMD. During REM, our brains are active -- thereby giving us those oh-so-exciting dreams -- but our brain also knows to keep our bodies paralyzed so that we don't act them out.
7. Coke - Polar Bear Frustration
While those Coca Cola polar bears were certainly cute, we'd prefer they stick with pure water when it comes to hydration. Each single-serve bottle of Coke packs 240 calories -- and we definitely saw them drink at least a few each (that would add up to quite a few laps around the pond to burn those off). A quick peek at the ingredient label indicates that high fructose corn syrup is listed second; some data suggests it may be processed in the body differently from sugar.
What's worse is that the polar bears seemed to be drinking the sweet stuff to cope with the stress of the football game -- emotional eating can add up to tons of excess calories. Find a healthier outlet, for your health.
8. Geico Weight Loss Guy
Social support is a good way to strengthen a commitment to eating a healthier diet -- so we're tipping our hats to the man in this Geico commercial, who hired the "popular girls" from the local middle school to follow him around to judge his food choices ("Ew, seriously, that is so gross"). While we don't endorse his exact methods, finding a support network that can help you stay on track can increase your diet success far better than an expensive fad diet.