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Junk Food Makers Target Blacks, Latinos and Communities of Color, Increasing Risks From COVID-19

In the United States, the novel coronavirus appears to be infectinghospitalizing and killing black people and Latinos at alarmingly high rates, with data from several states illustrating this pattern.

There are many reasons for this. Structural inequalities across U.S. society contribute to this problem, including unequal access to fresh healthy foods, specific targeting of communities of color by manufacturers of junk food, unequal access to health care, more workers in essential jobs who cannot stay home and excess exposure to toxic chemicals and unhealthy air.

In this post, we are tracking studies and news articles about the disproportionate impact of the pandemic on black Americans, Latinos and communities of color, and how junk food manufacturers specifically and disproportionately target communities of color. For recent reporting on the connections between food-related diseases and the coronavirus, impacts on farmworkers and food workers, and other vital food system issues related to the pandemic, see our Coronavirus Food News Tracker.

Data on the disproportionate targeting of junk food advertising and marketing to communities of color

Increasing disparities in unhealthy food advertising targeted to Hispanic and Black youth, Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity; Council on Black Health (January 2019)

• Junk food ads disproportionately target black and Hispanic kids: report, by Lisa Rapaport, Reuters (1.17.19)

• Black and Hispanic youth are targeted with junk food ads, research shows, by Jessica Ravitz, CNN (1.15.19)

Television food advertising viewed by preschoolers, children and adolescents: contributors to differences in exposure for black and white youth in the United States, Rudd Center of Food Policy and Obesity (May 2016)

Food advertising targeted to Hispanic and Black youth: Contributing to health disparities, Rudd Center for Food Policy, AACORN, Salud America! (August 2015)

• Study: Black children are exposed to junk-food ads way more than white kids are, by Caitlin Dewey, Washington Post (12.15.16)

Limit junk-food ads that contribute to childhood obesity, Statement by the American Medical Association (2018)

Health equity & junk food marketing: talking about targeting kids of color, Berkeley Media Studies Group (2017)

Television food advertising viewed by preschoolers, children and adolescents: contributors to differences in exposure for black and white youth in the United States, Pediatric Obesity (2016)

To Choose (Not) to Eat Healthy: Social Norms, Self‐affirmation, and Food Choice, by Aarti Ivanic, Psychology and Marketing (July 2016)

• People of color have the highest obesity rates in the US. Food marketing is part of the problem: Interview with Aarti Ivanic by Nadra Little, Vox (9.28.18)

Disparities in Obesity-Related Outdoor Advertising by Neighborhood Income and RaceJournal of Urban Health (2015)

Child-Directed Marketing Inside and on the Exterior of Fast Food Restaurants, American Journal of Preventive Medicine (2014)

• Fast-Food Chains Disproportionately Target Black Children, by Olga Khazan, The Atlantic (11.13.14)

• Fast food marketing for children disproportionately affects certain communitiesArizona State University (10.14)

• Fast Food Restaurants Are Targeting Black Kids with Their Advertising, by Laura RothamVice (11.17.14)

Racial/Ethnic and Income Disparities in Child and Adolescent Exposure to Food and Beverage Television Ads across U.S. Media Markets, Health Place (2014)

Impact of Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Consumption on Black Americans’ Health, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation(2011)

The Context for Choice: Health Implications of Targeted Food and Beverage Marketing to African AmericansAmerican Journal of Public Health (2008)

Fast Food: Oppression through Poor NutritionCalifornia Law Review (2007)

The Health Impact of Targeted Marketing: An Interview with Sonya GrierCorporations and Health Watch (2010)

What to do

Limit junk-food ads that contribute to childhood obesity, Statement by the American Medical Association (2018)

Targeted Marketing Of Junk Food To Ethnic Minority Youth: Fighting Back With Legal Advocacy And Community Engagement, ChangeLab Solutions(2012)

Pre-order Ronnie's New Book, Coming February 11

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