More Fast-Food Ads Shown on Black-Oriented TV

AP, April 3, 2006

There are far more ads for fast food and snacks on black-oriented TV than on channels with more general programming, researchers report in a provocative study that suggests a link to high obesity rates in black children.

The results come from a study that lasted just one week in the summer. Commercials on Black Entertainment Television, the nation’s first black-targeted cable channel, were compared with ads during afternoon and evening shows on the WB network and Disney Channel.

Of the nearly 1,100 ads, more than half were for fast food and drinks, such as sodas.

About 66 percent of the fast-food ads were on BET, compared with 34 percent on WB and none on Disney. For drinks, 82 percent were on BET, 11 percent on WB and 6 percent on Disney; and for snacks, 60 percent were on BET, none on WB and 40 percent on Disney.

TV watching, calories linked?

The study in a pediatric medical journal accompanies separate research: a study indicating kids consume an extra 167 calories, often from advertised foods, for every hour of TV they watch; and a report suggesting even preschoolers get fat from watching more than two hours of daily TV.

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Still, Jordan said the ads study doesn’t prove that a disproportionate number of commercials for unhealthy foods causes black kids to become overweight, and said more research is needed “to more convincingly directly tie exposure to effects.”

Obesity affects about 18 percent of black children, compared with about 14 percent of white youngsters, according to 2001-02 data. The rate was almost 20 percent for Hispanics. New estimates coming later this week are expected to show the numbers have increased for both blacks and whites.

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