When it Comes to Marketing, Junk Food Companies Target Kids of Color

The data is staggering: For one in four adolescents of color, maintaining a healthy weight is a daily struggle. More than 25 percent of black or Latino boys aged six to 11 are obese, according to Centers for Disease Control data.

But when these young people flip on the television or walk through their neighborhoods, they’re bombarded with advertising from food companies whose products would worsen their health rather than improve it. In fact, according to a new study out of the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at the University of Connecticut, black and Latino youth are exposed to much more junk food marketing messages—on television and in their communities—than their white counterparts.

Specifically, black youth face a daily onslaught of unhealthy food advertising. In 2013, food companies spent $135 million pushing fast food, sugary drinks, and snacks on television channels targeting black youth. The Hershey Company alone spent $23 million targeting black youth with its candy.

Compare this to just $2 million spent on yogurt and 100 percent juice and nothing spent marketing plain water, fruits and vegetables, the result is troubling: black youth, who already are more likely to struggle with obesity, face a near-constant barrage of messages from products closely linked with obesity.

“This report highlights important disparities in the food and beverage industry’s heavy marketing of unhealthy foods to Hispanic and black youth, and the corresponding lack of promotion of healthier options,” said Amelie G. Ramirez, director of Salud America!, based at the Institute for Health Promotion Research at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, in a Rudd Center press release. “Given the role food marketing plays in influencing the diets of youth of color, there is increasing demand for heightened industry self-regulation and community-based action.”

Food advertising “affects children’s preferences, purchase requests and short-term consumption,” according to a landmark 2005 study by the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies. But despite promises by 17 leading food brands to decrease the marketing of less healthy products to children, this industry self-regulation has not moved the needle nearly enough: companies may now be marketing more sugar to kids than they were before the policies took effect.

Given the chronic, diet-related health issues rampant in communities of color, the Rudd report showing junk food makers specifically targeting youth in these communities is troubling, and yet another reminder why it’s important to look at corporate responsibility, integrity and transparency when choosing where to spend our food dollars.

Written by Steve Holt, and reposted with permission from Thrive Market.

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Siyus Copetallus
Siyus Copetallus2 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

Sarah Hill
Sarah Hill2 years ago

Interesting, not sure about this though.

Danuta Watola
Danuta W2 years ago

Thanks so much.

Quanta Kiran
Quanta Kiran2 years ago


Heidi Aubrey
Heidi Aubrey3 years ago

Greed knows no boundaries.

Julia Cabrera-Woscek

Latino tv is stuffed with sweets and snack foods commercials on TV and advertising... EVERYWHERE you go. Seems like big portions is the best deal.

Angela B.
Angela B3 years ago

That's pretty sad! I guess limiting my kids' t.v. and internet access when they were young was a good thing. We ate junk food sometimes; after all, how can you avoid it all the time, but I spent a lot of time worrying about nutrition and how to get my kids interested in it. Looking back, I think I was reasonably successful. All 7 of my kids are adults now and not one had problems with their weight. Now they can worry about their own children eating healthy.

Jim Ven
Jim Ven3 years ago

thanks for the article.

Sam Adam
Past Member 3 years ago


Catrin NoForwardsPlease
Catrin S3 years ago

Tell us something we do not already know.....