Fast-food companies are increasingly targeting “unhealthy” food for young people and minority children like Latinos and African-Americans, according to a report released today.
“We have seen that many of the advertisements for unhealthy products that are being broadcast on television are aimed exclusively at Hispanic consumers and especially the younger ones,” Rosalie Aguilar, project coordinator at Salud América, told Efe. of the organizations that participated in the study.
The research, which also included the UConn Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity and the Council on Black Health, found that junk food companies increased their investment by 86% in ads placed in programming spaces aimed at African-American children and a 82% to television channels or programming in Spanish in 2017.
“Hispanic minors are seeing more and more advertisements for unhealthy foods, in Spanish and English, such as sweets, sugary drinks and junk food,” she said.
According to the report, 8 out of 10 dollars that are invested in television ads for fast food, candy, sugary drinks and unhealthy snacks are targeted to these groups.
In total, the food industry invested $ 1.1 billion in advertising in 2017, the report said.
Aguilar pointed out that, although many of the companies analyzed have developed healthy products and options to respond to market demands, they are not directing these efforts toward minority groups such as Hispanics and African-Americans.
“These companies are increasing their investment in advertising targeting Latino minors for their less healthy products, and instead investing zero dollars in their healthier options such as yogurt, fruit or nuts.” These companies are aware of the consequences of these options in the Latino community and, even so, they are the ones that promote, “he said.
According to the research, 20% of advertisements targeting Hispanic children were for candy, while those advertising products with nuts or fruits were practically null, representing no more than 3%.
“It’s a trend that definitely worries us, that companies like McDonald’s or Subway or Wendy’s and all these fast-food chains are directing their advertising campaigns to Hispanic minors despite promises they have made earlier that they will change their campaigns and will not run advertising unhealthy products to children, “Aguilar said.
The research identified the companies Mars, Nestlé, McDonalds, General Mills and Yum !, which operates the KFC, Taco Bell and Pizza Hut restaurants, as the ones that most direct their advertising campaigns to Hispanic minors.
The companies that allocated the most advertising to African-American minors in 2017 were Kraft Heinz, General Mills, Hershey, PepsiCo and Yum!
The research highlights the need to reverse this trend in order to reduce the consumption of foods high in sugars, salt and saturated fats, which are largely responsible for the high rates of childhood obesity that affect children in the United States.
Childhood obesity rates among Hispanic and African-American minors are twice as high as among white minors.
According to figures from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), 26% of Hispanic children are obese, while the figure is 22% among African-Americans, compared with 14% among whites.
“Part of what we recommend in the study, is to raise the age at which advertising of unhealthy products can be directed to minors, which for now there is a commitment not to do so with children under 12 years of age, and we are asking that is changed to 14 years, “said Aguilar. (EFEUSA) .-