More ads may lead to more health disparities for black teens

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Food companies are targeting many of their ads to black teens. For example, these corporations advertise in black-targeted media or depict people of color in TV commercials. However, this attention is not necessarily good news.

“It is important that companies are finally recognizing that black youth are important consumers,” said Department of Allied Health Sciences Associate Professor Jennifer Harris. Unfortunately, corollary trends of targeting black teens with TV advertising for only unhealthy food and beverage products, such as fast food, sugary drinks, candy and snacks, and increasing the amount of their exposure to these ads could encourage consumption and result in negative health impacts, according to Harris’ published research in the February 2018 Pediatric Obesity journal.

More television viewing

This comprehensive study, which is the only one of its kind, shows that there are many factors that have led to black teens’ increased exposure to advertising of products that are high in sugar, fat and/or sodium.

One element of the research found that black youth watch more commercial television than white youth. Harris said, “TV viewing by all adolescents has gone down 40 percent since 2013, but declines have been lower for black youth.”

Based on the Nielsen data used in the study, black teens are watching channels that are targeted to black audiences, like Black Entertainment Television (BET). That network shows eight food and beverage ads per hour, compared to The Disney Channel, which has no food advertising.

Black teens view plenty of non-targeted channels, as well. And, adolescents who watch more TV also see more of the accompanying ads.

Continue reading at Naturally@UConn.