Report: Black and Latinos More Likely to Eat Sugary Cereals

Is marketing that targets children of color to blame?

Posted: 01/27/2012 02:01 PM EST

A healthy breakfast is one of the most important meals we can eat during the day. It keeps us energized and focused in the morning hours, gives us more strength and endurance and can even help lower our cholesterol levels.

But how many of us are doing it right? In terms of breakfast cereals, not enough.

A recent study found that African-Americans and Latinos are more likely to buy and consume these sugary low-nutritional cereals than our white counterparts.

For a year, researchers from the Yale Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity, along with the Neilson Company, collected data from supermarkets around the U.S. to get a better sense of who was consuming these kinds of cereals. They analyzed the data in terms of race/ethnicity; how heavily advertised the cereals were; whether the buyers were married or not; and the nutritional value of the cereals. It's important to note that cereals that were more unhealthy (think Froot Loops) were the cereals that happened to be more advertised on in the media than healthier cereals (think Kashi Go Lean). And many of these unhealthy cereals are geared for children.

What these researchers found was eye-opening:

•  While African-Americans and Latinos buy cereals at lower rates than whites, they are more likely to purchase cereals with very little nutritional value that were geared for children. How much more likely? Thirteen times more likely.

•  Similar trends were found in families that were run by women of lower-income and lower levels and of people who live in the South.

•  Households with more than one child were more likely to purchase unhealthy cereals.

These findings are important because the cereals Black consumers are eating have no real nutritional value, which means overall health suffers. Essentially, foods like these high-sugar cereals are fueling the obesity epidemic in the African-American community.

So what can be done?

In addition to us making healthier food choices, the team of researchers behind the study believes advertising is what drives the sales of unhealthy foods. Will the public wake up and either shun the products or pressure the cereal makers to stop pushing the product on defenseless children? That is up to the public — as well as the conscience of those who are doing the marketing, and their stockholders.

BET Health News - We go beyond the music and entertainment world to bring you important medical information and health-related tips of special relevance to Blacks in the U.S. and around the world.

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(Photo: Rick Wilking/Reuters)

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