Obesity and unhealthy eating habits are widespread problems in the U.S. that leave practically no demographic untouched. But that doesn’t mean that some aren’t disproportionately affected.
A study conducted by researchers at the University of Connecticut’s Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity have found that black children are exposed to far more advertisements for junk food than their white counterparts, according to The Washington Post.
The findings were published in the Pediatric Obesity journal and compiled Nielsen television ratings data from 2008 to 2012. The first critical finding is that all children are seeing a lot of junk food advertisements on television. But it was also found that black children and teenagers are shown more, in some cases even 50 percent more.
While young black children designated as “pre-Kers” saw an average of 16.9 junk food advertisements, white children only saw 10.3. The gap only grew with age as white teenagers only saw 14.8 advertisements a week compared to 24.2 for black teens.
Part of why black children are overexposed is possibly due to targeting from the fast food market, which already shows more advertisements on television networks with larger black audiences. The same applies for networks with younger audiences, meaning that black children fall perfectly into two highly sought after demographics.
“Determining the intentions of [food] companies is challenging,” said Frances Fleming-Milici, a marketing researcher at the Rudd Center. “But we use the same data that companies use to place their ads. Ads are placed to reach a certain demographic.”
This news is telling because a clear connection has already been established between the viewing of junk food advertisements and the consumption of junk food. So when doctors claim that more than half of black adults are obese and that the same can be said for 20 percent of black children, this may play a factor.
The Obesity Action Coalition actually found that 90 percent of food advertisements that target children are for fast food products of items doused in sugar.
Hopefully, this observation will lead to an overall better outlook for the kinds of foods that can be found in communities of color, resulting in overall better health.