Fast-food chains, soda-makers and snack-vendors are targeting black teens and children 50 percent more than their white counterparts, according to a new study.
he striking findings have led to allegations of racial bias in food marketing in the US.
Childhood obesity is a major problem in many parts of the work, but in the US, it is being exacerbated by the producers of junk food having a racial bias in who they target their marketing to.
That's according to the University of Connecticut Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity.
"Food advertising exposure increased with age for both black and white youth, but black youth viewed approximately 50 percent or more ads than did white youth of the same age," lead study author Frances Fleming-Milici said.
The study, published last week in the journal 'Pediatric Obesity,' analyzed Nielsen data from 2008 to 2012, to compare the rates at which white and black children watch advertising from fast-food chains, soda-makers and snack vendors.
The research team found that "all children saw more TV and beverage ads in 2012 than in 2008, even though the amount of time kids spend watching TV has basically stayed the same."
However, the study found that there is a significant difference in marketing between the networks and channels that white and black children are more likely to watch.
Compared to their white peers, African-American children spend far more time watching "youth-targeted" and "black-targeted" networks, such as Fuse, Nick-at-Nite, BET and VH1. These are also the same networks that the researchers found air the most junk food advertisements.
Frances Fleming-Milici does not believe it is a coincidence.
"Determining the intentions of [food] companies is challenging," she said. "But we use the same data that companies use to place their ads. Ads are placed to reach a certain demographic."
"Greater television viewing and higher rates of advertising on youth- and black-targeted networks both contributed to black youthˈs greater exposure."
The implications of this study are concerning. In the US, almost half of all black adults and 20 percent of black children are obese.
Much of the reaction to the study has focused on the 'predatory' nature of race-based advertising in light of this, Sputnik reported.
The study concluded that: "Food advertisers and networks, especially those targeting adolescents and black youth, must do more to reduce advertising that negatively impacts young people's health."
The researchers suggest that proactively changing marketing habits as well as trying to reduce how much television young people watch may help to combat the problem.