The tobacco industry has gone out of its way to disproportionately target African-American and low-income youth. And a new study confirms that Fast Food Inc. is guilty of the exact same thing.
A recent study found that fast food companies tend to market more aggressively toward kids from Black neighborhoods, rural communities and middle-class areas. Researchers from University of Arizona and University of Chicago looked at more than 6,700 fast food chains and found the following:
— Chain restaurants were nine times more likely to display a kids’ meal toy inside the store, while fast food restaurants in majority-black neighborhoods had nearly twice the odds of having this kind of display as opposed to those in majority-white neighborhoods.
— Twenty percent of restaurants it examined used one or more tactics targeting children. The indoor exhibition of kids’ meal toys was the most widely used, followed by exterior advertisements with cartoon characters, in addition to ads with kids’ meal toys.
— To attract older young people, movies, video games and famous athletes and celebs are used in ads as well.
“Fast food companies in the U.S. spend nearly a quarter of their marketing budgets targeting youth aged 2 to 17 years,” study author Punam Ohri-Vachaspati, an associate professor of nutrition at Arizona State University, told Red Orbit.
“In 2009, fast food restaurants spent more than $700 million to market their products to children and adolescents; nearly half of the amount went toward premiums such as kids’ meal toys.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 24 percent of African-American girls ages 6 to 11 are overweight and 19 percent of African-American boys in the same age group are overweight. Among Black teenagers, the numbers are almost the same. In terms of obesity, 22.4 percent of African-American children ages 6 to 17 are obese, which is defined as having a body mass index higher than 30.
In a 2010 Center for American Progress report, the rate of obese and overweight African-American and Latino young people ages 2-19 is around 40 percent, while it’s less than 30 percent among their white counterparts. With these high rates come higher incidents of “adult” diseases such as Type-2 diabetes, high blood pressure (hypertension) and heart disease.
So the next time you or your kid sister has an urge for a Big Mac, think twice before taking a bite.
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