Posted Sept. 10, 2008 – The African American obesity problem is not just the result of too many people plopping themselves in front of their TVs and not exercising. But a new study says it’s what we’re watching – or what’s being aimed at us – when we watch TV that’s the problem.
Seeing more ads of fast-food and other fatty foods is in part to blame for why overweight and obesity rates are a bigger problem for African Americans (68.9 percent) than for Whites (59.5 percent), say the numbers crunchers at the Kaiser Family Foundation.
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In fact, advertisers specifically target Blacks with unhealthy food messages, the Kaiser researchers found after reviewing 22 studies published in the September issue of the American Journal of Public Health. In television and print, high-fat, high-calorie foods are more heavily promoted to Blacks.
Television shows that are popular among Black audiences run a greater number of food commercials than do general-audience shows, the research shows. And food ads in Black-oriented magazines are dominated by low-cost, energy-dense, low-nutrition foods – foods that are high in calories and fat but low in nutritional value, such as potato chips, soda, and sweets like donuts and Twinkies.
"The results suggest that the marketing environments of African-American consumers are less likely to support the development and maintenance of healthful eating," the study concludes. “Moreover, …these environments may predispose African Americans to excess caloric consumption.”
They added that the advertising of “junk food” – cheap, high-calorie, low-nutrition foods – was particularly high on shows aimed at Black children, which influenced poor family food choices and led to unhealthy diets, the scientists said.