August 2015 Newsletter

Rudd Center Recent Publications

Black and Hispanic Youth Are Disproportionately Targeted With Advertising for Unhealthy Food and Beverages

Food companies disproportionately target their TV advertising for fast food, candy, sugary drink and snack brands to Black and Hispanic consumers, according to a new report by the Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity, the African American Collaborative Obesity Research Network (AACORN) and Salud America! "Our analysis of the largest food, beverage and restaurant corporations in the United States shows that these companies vary widely in their focus on advertising targeted to Black and Hispanic youth. Unfortunately, the majority of brands targeted to youth of color are nutritionally poor products that can be harmful to their health," said Jennifer Harris, PhD, the report's lead author and the Rudd Center's Director of Marketing Initiatives. Dr. Harris presented the findings of the report, "Food advertising targeted to Hispanic and Black youth: Contributing to health disparities," at the annual National Conference on Health Communication, Marketing and Media, held Aug. 11-13 in Atlanta, Ga.

Rudd Center in the News

The Hartford Courant featured our new report in an Aug. 11 article headlined, "UConn Study Says Ads For Unhealthy Foods Target Minorities." The in-depth article notes: "While targeted marketing to Black and Hispanic consumers is not by itself problematic, the study's authors say, the overwhelming preponderance of ads for food products that are calorie rich, lacking in nutrients and laden with sugar, salt and fat are contributing to an obesity crisis in minority communities."

NBC News covered the report on Aug. 11 and quoted co-author Shiriki Kumanyika, Chair of the African American Collaborative Obesity Research Network: "This is a clear case of tactics that must be profitable from the business perspective but at the cost of fostering an environment that promotes poor health in Black and Hispanic youth in particular," Dr. Kumanyika said.

The report was highlighted in Jet magazine Aug. 11 and Ebony magazine on Aug. 12. "Overall, Black youth viewed 70 percent more food-related TV advertising compared with their white peers. In addition, they saw almost twice as many TV ads for candy, soda and other sugary drinks, and snacks," the article said, citing the report's findings.

The Latino Post published an article on the report on Aug. 12, "Latino Kids Targeted by Sugary Sodas & Calorie-Packed Food Ads, Researchers Report."

The Los Angeles Times was among news outlets that emphasized health disparities in the context of TV advertising for unhealthy foods targeting Black and Latino youth. "Over two-thirds of the Spanish TV ads that are directed to [Latino children] are really pushing fast food, sugary drinks, candy and snacks," report co-author Amelie Ramirez of Salud America! said in the Aug. 13 article, which noted that only 3 percent of the food ads viewed by Latino youth promoted healthier options." "We're really concerned about this because 39 percent of Hispanic and Latino children between the ages of 2 and 19 are already either overweight or obese," Ramirez added.

Other publications that featured our new targeted marketing report included Politico, UConn Today, Food and Wine magazine, The Daily Meal, The Dallas Weekly, Atlanta BlackStar, LA Watts Times, The Tri-State Defender, The Sacramento Observer and Medical Xpress.

Rudd Center Research Associate Megan LoDolce was quoted in an Aug. 27 article in The Stamford Advocate that marked Subway's 50th anniversary. Asked about the chain's healthy offerings, Megan's comments employed both carrot and stick: "The meals they're showing in advertising drive people into the restaurants, but there's a relatively small proportion of actual healthy meals compared to other things you can get," she said. "Companies like Subway do have better foods, if you can find them."

Philadelphia Public Radio - WHYY - quoted Rudd Center Director Marlene Schwartz on Aug. 7 about food service company Aramark's efforts to revamp its menu toward healthier food with the help of the American Heart Association.

MSN on Aug. 2 carried a report on Rudd Center Deputy Director Rebecca Puhl's recent four-nation study showing that weight bias is perceived as the most common reason children are bullied. "Our findings echo recent research from the U.S. showing that parents favor strengthening school-based policies and state laws to address weight-based bullying," she said in the article. "The time may be ripe to implement school-level policy changes to ensure that vulnerable youth are protected."

What's Simmering With Our Friends 

The Center for Science in the Public Interest published a powerful new report Aug. 3 on how the presence of junk food at store checkout aisles leads to impulse purchases of foods like candy, chips and sugary drinks - undermining consumers' health. The report, "Temptation at Checkout: The Food Industry's Sneaky Strategy for Selling More," was widely publicized via social media including an Aug. 4 webinar and an Aug. 5 tweet chat #RethinkCheckout. The release of the report marked the start of a campaign to transform checkout aisles so they do not undermine public health.

Salud America!, one of our two collaborators on the report on TV advertising for unhealthy food targeting Black and Hispanic youth, hosted a fabulously far-reaching tweet chat on the report upon its release Aug. 11 #SaludTues. The Rudd Center @UConnRuddCenter and AACORN @SHIFTDemand were co-hosts.

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation highlighted our report on TV marketing of unhealthy food targeted to Black and Hispanic youth in its foundation-wide newsletter - Advances - and on its Culture of Health blog.

A letter to the editor organized by The Center for Science in the Public Interestand published by The New York Times (with 36 co-signers in the fields of public health, medicine and nutrition including Rudd Center Director Marlene Schwartz) took Coca-Cola to task for "supporting scientists who help them deny the role sugary drinks play in causing obesity." The letter was in response to the Times' article on Aug. 9.

An article by Rudd Center Communication Director Dan Jones on Hartford's Mobile Market, "Healthy Food Comes to Hartford's Neighborhoods - On Wheels," was published in the Prevent Inside Track newsletter on Aug. 6. Prevent, a project of the American Heart Association dedicated to reversing the childhood obesity epidemic, is looking to sign up Leaders in the movement "actively working in their communities to change policies and environments to reverse childhood obesity."

News to Chew On

U.S. News & World Report
Empty Plate: Kids Are Being Bullied to Skip Lunch at School
Washington Post
We don't need to drink less soda, according to research funded by Coca-Cola
Soda Executives Are Just as Evil as Tobacco Executives
Here’s Who Drinks the Most Sugary Beverages In the World
Woman Writes Awesome Open Letter to Man Who Called Her Fat While Jogging