Report: Junk Food TV Ads Focus More on Hispanic, Black Adolescents Than Other Groups

According to a new report by University of Connecticut, Drexel University and the University of Texas Health Science Center, TV advertising costs for restaurants, food and beverages decreased by 4 percent, whereas spending for the same advertising directed at Black teens increased by 50 percent.

“Food companies hardly ever market fruit and vegetables, water or healthy juices,” Jennifer Harris, a lead author of the study and director of marketing initiatives for the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at the University of Connecticut told NBC News. “The money put towards such advertisements is less than 3 percent for the general population and less than 1 percent to blacks and Hispanics.”

In the report, “Increasing disparities in unhealthy food advertising targeted to Hispanic and Black youth”, the researchers studied 32 restaurant and food and beverage companies that each spent more than $100 million on total TV advertising in 2017.

“At best, these advertising patterns imply that food companies view black consumers as interested in candy, sugary drinks, fast food and snacks with a lot of salt, fat or sugar, but not in healthier foods,” said Shiriki Kumanyika, a study co-author and chair of the Council on Black Health at Drexel.

Another important contributing factor to poor nutrition among some minority groups is poverty. Other studies that research communities with similar poverty rates found that neighborhoods with a high population of Hispanic and Black families tend to not have many large supermarkets and more small grocery stores than compared to majority White neighborhoods.

The small grocery stores don’t offer many healthy alternatives such as fresh fruits and vegetables and whole-grain foods that a supermarket offers its customers.

These areas are known as food deserts. According to the government, a food desert is defined as areas where 33 percent of the census tract’s population reside more than one mile from a supermarket or large grocery store.

As a result of the low prices of fast food and unhealthy food options, the rates of obesity in food deserts are more common, and has an increase of individuals with diabetes and heart disease.

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