Today, the University of Connecticut’s Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity released Snack FACTS 2015, a thoroughly researched report evaluating snack food nutrition and marketing to youth. The report “examines the nutritional quality and advertising for 90 snack food brands offered by 43 companies that were marketed to U.S. children and teens on TV, internet, and in schools in 2014.”
One particularly disturbing aspect of the report examines how advertisers target Hispanic and Black youth with unhealthy snacks. Here are just a few of the statistics that caught our eye:
- “From 2010 to 2014, TV ads for savory snacks viewed by black children increased 48% and ads viewed by black teens increased 95%.”
- “In 2014, black children saw 64% more snack food ads on TV compared to white children, and black teens viewed 103% more compared to white teens.”
- “In 2014, companies spent more than $45 million to advertise snack foods on Spanish-language TV, a decline of 6% versus 2010. However, spending on savory snack ads skyrocketed 551% and sweet snack ads rose 30%.”
- “Ads for unhealthy snacks comprised 88% of snack food ads viewed by Hispanic children on Spanish-language TV in 2014, a dramatic jump from 39% in 2010.”
Just last week the New York Times reported on research which suggests that fast-food advertising works on children (no wonder industry spends tens of millions on it).
No wonder food companies — including AND sponsors — protest at even the slightest hint of voluntary rules to regulate marketing to children; it works like a charm.
We wish the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics would bring light to this issue, which is a legitimate public health problem. Its sponsors may not take well to that position, but any organization that aims to improve the health of Americans should address this problem.