Black, Hispanic Kids Advertising Targets For Unhealthy, High-Calorie Foods, Study Shows

Black and Hispanic kids are advertising targets for unhealthy, high-calorie foods, a new study shows.

The study, published online by the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity, was presented at the National Conference on Health, Communication, Marketing, and Media, which is being held in Atlanta, Georgia, from August 11 to August 13.

The collaborative report by the Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity at the University of Connecticut, the African-American Collaborative Obesity Research Network, and the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio suggests that minority kids are exposed to 70 percent more food-related TV advertising than white kids. They also see twice as many television ads for candy, sugary drinks, and snacks.

According to the report, researchers focused on 26 major restaurant, food, and beverage companies that invested at least $100 in their advertising campaigns, and then analyzed their 267 most advertised brands. They then gathered the companies’ targeted marketing practices from their individual annual reports, along with marketing trade releases and press releases from 2012 to 2014.

They found that there were three companies that significantly target black and Hispanic kids more than white kids by using more Spanish language advertising than English. Those companies included Kraft Mayonnaise, 7-Up, and Fuze Iced Tea. There were also 48 brands that were identified as “disproportionately targeting their TV advertising to children and teens compared with adults,” with a focus on black and Hispanic children.

McDonald’s, Cinnamon Toast Crunch Cereal, Twix Candy Bar, and Orbit gum spent the most money on Spanish ads targeted at youth. The fast food companies spent upwards of $224 million for Hispanic audiences, and $61 million for black audiences.

“This is a clear case of tactics that must be profitable from the business perspective but at the cost of fostering an environment that promotes poor health in black and Hispanic youth in particular,” said Shiriki Kumanyika, Chair of the African American Collaborative Obesity Research Network, a group that studies obesity in African Americans.

“Previous research has shown that black and Hispanic youth receive a ‘double dose’ of food marketing that promotes products high in sugar, saturated fat, and sodium,” the report read. “Compared to white non-Hispanic youth, they are exposed to more food advertising in the media, as well as more marketing messages in their communities.”

“This research confirms public health concerns about food and beverage marketing targeted to black and Hispanic consumers, especially children and adolescents.

Due to their greater exposure to media and food marketing, proposals to reduce unhealthy food marketing to youth and/or increase marketing of nutritious foods would also greatly benefit black and Hispanic youth. In addition, industry pledges to increase marketing of healthy products must include expansion of advertising in black- and Hispanic-targeted media, where healthier categories are currently significantly underrepresented.”

What do you think about black and Hispanic kids being advertising targets for companies? Leave your comments below.

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