Fast-food companies are spending billions on ads, targeting Black and Hispanic youth

New research by the University of Connecticut showed that the fast-food industry in 2019 spent around $5 billion on advertising, mainly targeting Black and Hispanic youth.

Funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the study examined how prolonged exposure to fast-food marketing raises young people’s preferences for its consumption, in which practically many of its foods are high in calories and saturated fat.

“The study analyzed 2019 Nielsen data covering advertising spending and TV advertising exposure for 274 fast-food restaurants, including detailed analyses of the 27 top fast-food advertisers with the highest annual advertising spending and/or that targeted TV advertising to children, Hispanic, and/or Black consumers,” according to the study’s authors.

“The Rudd Center produces annual FACTS reports on the state of food and beverage advertising aimed at children, teens and Black and Hispanic youth. This study is a follow up to the Rudd Center’s 2013 Fast-Food FACTS report.”

The 2019 Nielsen data unveiled that children aged 2-5 consumed an average of 830 television ads showing fast food over the span of one year. Children aged 6-11, however, viewed 787 ads and adolescents viewed close to 800 ads.

“The authors of the study make recommendations on concrete steps fast-food restaurants can take to limit such marketing, such as expanding voluntary industry self-regulation to restrict unhealthy food advertising to children up to age 14 at a minimum, discontinuing ads for regular menu items on children’s TV channels and ending disproportionately high marketing to Hispanic and Black youth,” a news release states.

“They also offer suggestions for actions that federal, state and local governments can take such as creating nutrition standards for kids’ meals and eliminating unhealthy food and beverage marketing to children as a tax-deductible expense.”

More Stories
Neuroscientists explain how odors turn into long-term memories