Latino and African American Preschoolers Targeted by Fast Food Companies
McDonald's, Subway, Wendy's, Burger King, KFC, Checkers, Taco Bell, Starbucks and companies just like these are guilty of profiting off of black and Hispanic youth, nay, children, putting them at high risk of diabetes, obesity and other related diseases. Fast Food FACT 2013, issued by the Yale Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity, has released a new report that addresses fast food restaurants, the quality of that food, and the way that the food and beverages are marketed toward minority children and teenagers.
According to the report, $4.6 billion was been spent on advertising in 2012 - an eight percent increase over 2009. This effort was specifically created to beckon children as young as two to visit fast food establishments. In fact, Spanish-language fast food advertising geared toward Hispanic preschoolers has increased by 16 percent, the report adds. Spanish-Language TV advertisements have increased eight percent; KFC and Burger King increased spending by 35 percent, reducing English-language advertising. Latino preschoolers see 100 more ads than older Latino children and teens. And, black children and teens see 60 percent more fast-food ads than white youth.
High-calorie, high-sugar, high-saturated fat and nutritionally poor menu items preceded the addition of healthy kids' meal options. These healthier options include healthier sides and drinks, and somewhat scaled down portions. Nonetheless, these healthier options only make up one percent of all kids' combo meals. Only 33 out of 5,437 possible meals met recommended nutritional standards. Also, the healthy options only represent one-quarter of fast food ads that children will view on television; this results in most children not eating kids' meals. Only 44 percent of children under the age of 6, and 31 percent of older children consume kids' meals; there being a constant decline in the purchase of kids' meals since 2007.
Latino and African American children are particularly attractive to food marketers because of the population size, media exposure and spending power. Music, Latino spokespeople, and identifiable belief/values are considered when marketing certain food brands and products to the community.
Being that diabetes and obesity is already a concern for the targeted demographic, it's that much more concerning that the advertisers have set their sights on Latinos and African Americans at a young age, so that they can have them addicted to an unhealthy lifestyle their entire lives.
"The marketing of unhealthy food concerns the Latino community because nearly 40 percent of Latino youths are overweight or obese," said Dr. Amelie G. Ramirez, director of Salud America!
While advertisements, on average, have been less frequent on television and the Internet; when it does appear, it specifically targets children. And, children are often lured by advergames, which are created by fast food companies to advertise food or merchandise, such as "McPlay" and "Pet Play Game."
The study recommends that companies limit advertising to children, and only market healthy kids' items. Also, they recommend the discontinuance of advergames; they shouldn't target preschoolers with the use of Spanish-language TV; and that companies should increase the number of healthy beverages and lower-calorie items, making them available at a reasonable price.
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