A study reported last December by the University of Connecticut’s Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity found that while all kids are seeing more food ads per hour of television watching, black youth are viewing up to 49% more.
As reported in Pediatric Obesity, researchers analyzed Nielsen data from 2008 and 2012 to compare food-ad viewing rates. Although the amount of TV viewing time did not change in those years, the number of food ads seen per hour increased for white children and adolescents and rose even more for black youth.
The highest rates of unhealthy food advertising appeared during programs targeting under-18 youth and black youth, while children’s programming averaged the lowest rates.
Even so, “despite lower overall rates of food advertising on children’s programming compared with other types of programming, children under 12 saw more food advertisements in 2012 than in 2008,” said study co-author Jennifer Harris, PhD, MBA, director of marketing initiatives for the UConn Rudd Center and associate professor in allied health sciences. “Food companies must address unhealthy food advertising during all types of programming targeted to children and adolescents, including networks viewed primarily by black audiences. These improvements would benefit all children, and help address health disparities affecting black youth.”