Blacks and Food Advertising
Of interest is a Sarasota Herald-Tribune article (9/16/08) about black Americans being targeted by advertisers to eat less healthy foods than white Americans. Unfortunately, the article was intended for my “Blog” folder, but ended up somewhere else until I recently discovered it. Hence, my blogging about it two years late! My apologies.
The article is a real eye opener, stating that overweight and obesity rates are higher among blacks than among whites—68.9% to 59.5%—and that one of the culprits is food marketers. These statistics come from research reported by the Kaiser Family Foundation. “In a review of 22 studies published in the September issue of the American Journal of Public Health, researchers found that advertisers specifically target blacks with unhealthy food messages.” The kinds of food that are advertised—sweets and treats, of course.
Obviously, these foods are aggressively marketed to all Americans. However, “TV shows that are popular among black audiences run a greater number of food commercials than do general-audience shows. And food ads in black-oriented magazines are dominated by low-cost, energy-dense, low-nutrition foods—snack foods which are full of salt, sugar and fat. The results suggest that the marketing environments of African-American consumers are less likely to support the development and maintenance of healthful eating.”
By putting profit over people, the food industry undermines our best attempts at healthy eating. An excellent reason to scrutinize TV programs and commercials, as well as to make up our own minds and shop carefully, no matter what advertisers may try to sell us. They do not have the interest of the American public at heart, and are no friends of black Americans, in particular, no matter what message they try to put across that food is fun and a way to love ourselves and our children.
Every time any of us, black or white, gives in and mindlessly succumbs to high calorie/fat/salt food—I don’t mean consciously eating it now and then for pleasure as “normal” eaters—we are putting money in the pockets of the food industry and shaving healthy minutes off our lives. The fact that blacks are targeted should not only make them angry, it should make whites angry as well, that anyone should be seen by the food industry as just another dollar. The only way the industry will change is if we alter our eating habits and eliminate their profits.