Junk food ads target low income blacks and Hispanics

Charumati Rogers, Staff Writer

Studies show when African American or Hispanic children turn on the TV, they are 50 percent more likely than white children to be targeted by junk food and drug advertisements. In fact, some are now examining the link between childhood obesity and teen drug addictions because of these ads.

From 2013 to 2017, advertising for restaurants, beverages, and food decreased by four percent overall according to the website “Uconn Rudd Center.” However, junk food marketing still makes up 86 percent of ads targeting black viewership and 82 percent of Spanish-language television. Furthermore, black teens were twice as likely to see ads for products such as fast food, chips and ice cream than white teens in 2017.

“A large majority of minorities have low income, which forces them to buy cheaper food,” sophomore Nicolette Washington said. “The junk food that is often being advertised on television targets those who look for cheaper alternatives for food with lower prices and deals.”

According to a study conducted by sociology researcher and doctoral candidate of Stanford Priya Field- ing-Singh, an overwhelming majority of parents of — 96 percent — routinely said “no” to their children’s requests for junk food. In 96 percent of high-income families, at least one parent said requests for junk food were usually declined. However, Singh reported low-income families almost always said “yes” to these requests. Thirteen percent of low-income families report-ed they regularly said “no” to requests for junk food.

Jennifer Harris of the University of Connecticut’s Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity made it clear that companies who advertise their products usually advertise the cheapest and unhealthiest of products to minority youths because they are young and easy to manipulate and persuade.

“These companies not only target Hispanic and black youth, but they target them with the worst products,” UCSF M.D. Harris said.

Not only are companies targeting minorities with junk food, but they are also targeting them with tobacco ads. The Big Tobacco industry spent $7.3 billion in 2014 to get their ads on discounts, coupons, and food stamps — all the ways to target low-income neighborhoods.

As of 2017, 30 percent of African American teens under 18 live in poverty, while approximately 25 percent of Hispanic teens under 18 live in poverty. However, 8.7 percent of white teens under 18 live in poverty. Ac- cording to the “Los Angeles Times,’’ one of the reasons why lower-income families are targeted by junk food and tobacco ads is that those are the only indulgences many low-income families can afford.