Rudd Center In The News
Dr. Jennifer Harris, the report’s lead author and the Rudd Center’s director of marketing initiatives, told ABC News that the food companies reach these youth because they simply have more money. “The [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] budget for chronic disease prevention and health promotion is $1 billion a year,” Harris said. “These companies are spending $11 billion [on their ads].”
During a five-year period when both total and Spanish-language TV advertising by food companies fell 4 percent, TV marketing aimed at black Americans spiked more than 50 percent, according to a report from University of Connecticut’s Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity. Black teenagers saw more than twice as many ads for unhealthy foods compared to white teens in 2017, the study found. “They’re really focusing on products that can harm kids’ health, and they’re focusing on black networks,” Jennifer Harris, lead author of the study and director of marketing initiatives at the Rudd Center, said of food companies in general. “Given higher rates of obesity, diabetes and hypertension in black families, they’re basically contributing to those diseases.”
"These companies are not just targeting black and Hispanic kids with their advertising, but they're targeting them with the worst products," said lead author Jennifer Harris of University of Connecticut's Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity. The report by the Rudd Center, a research and policy group working to combat childhood obesity, the Council on Black Health at Drexel University and Salud America! at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio analyzed the targeted advertising efforts of 32 restaurants and food and beverage companies that spent in excess of $100 million to reach children and teens just in 2017.
These food ads push foods that contribute to obesity, only worsening a public health crisis that disproportionately affects communities of color, said study author Jennifer Harris of the Rudd Center. “It’s perpetuating the disparities that we all already see in kids’ health. Kids are very vulnerable to advertising, much more so than adults,” she said. “It’s making the public health community’s job so much more difficult. It’s making parents’ jobs so much more difficult.”