No Surprise Here: Research Shows Some Junk Food Ads Disproportionately Target Black Children
Getty Creative Image

Some fast food advertisers target Black children when trying to market their products, but a recent study shows just how disproportionate that marketing can be.

According to 2015 research from the Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obsiety, 50% of African-American adolescents see more unhealthy food and drink ads than their white counterparts. Yikes.

The study uncovers that when advertising for some fast food companies, marketers target programs with a greater spike in Black viewership to expose consumers to their product. 

That’s right, TV shows with a larger audience of African-American viewers are fed more junk food advertising. 

“In 2012, Black youth also viewed considerably more food ads compared with white youth of the same age: black preschoolers and adolescents saw 64% more ads, and black children saw 49% more ads,” the study detailed. “Notably, black preschoolers saw approximately two more food ads daily than did white adolescents.”

The study also uncovers that in addition to more fast food advertising, two thirds of the food ads exposed to minority children included “promot[ing] products that are high in sugar, saturated fat and/or sodium.”

Targeting networks like VH1, TV One, BET, Nick-at-Nite, TeenNick, MTV2, Adult Swim, Nickolodeon, NickToons, Disney XD, Disney, Nick. Jr., The Cartoon Network, among others, showcased a larger impression for ads with candy, baked goods and regularly carbonated bevarages. 

“These findings also indicate that higher rates of unhealthy food advertising during youth and Black targeted TV programming greatly contribute to disproportionate exposure by Black youth. Black preschoolers, children and adolescents viewed considerable numbers of food advertisements on Black targeted networks, which had among the highest rates of food advertising. Black targeted networks also contributed a significantly higher proportion of ads for some primarily unhealthy categories,(13–15) including fast-food and other restaurants, candy and carbonated beverages, as well as a lower proportion of dairy and fruit and vegetable ads. When compared with their white peers, Black preschoolers and children also spent relatively less time watching child-targeted TV networks, which averaged much lower rates of food advertising per hour (including non-commercial channels) and included significantly fewer or no ads for many of the least healthy categories.”

As of research in 2012, obesity in the African American community affects 47.8% of people ages 20 and up. Children ages 2-19 have a current obesity rate of 20.2%.