Study examines Hispanic youth exposure to food, beverage TV ads

Hispanic preschoolers, children and adolescents viewed, on average about 12 foods ads per day on television in 2010, with the majority of these ads appearing on English-language TV, whereas fast-food represented a higher proportion of the food ads on Spanish-language television, according to a study published Online First by JAMA Pediatrics.

High among young people is a public health concern in the United States and exposure to large numbers of advertisements for food products with little or no nutritional value likely contributes to the problem, according to the study background.

Frances Fleming-Milici, Ph.D., and colleagues at Yale University, New Haven, Conn., using a Nielsen panel of television viewing households, measured the amount of food and beverage advertising viewed by Hispanic youth on Spanish-language and English-language TV and compared it with the amount of food and beverage advertising viewed by non-Hispanic youth.

"Given higher rates of obesity and overweight for Hispanic youth, it is important to understand the amount and types of food advertising they view," according to the study.

In 2010, Hispanic preschoolers, children and adolescents viewed 4,218, 4,373 and 4,542 total food and beverage ads on television, respectively, or 11.6 to 12.4 ads per day. Preschoolers viewed 1,038 food advertisements on Spanish-language TV, the most of any age group, according to the study.

Because there is somewhat less on Spanish-language television, and adolescents viewed 14 percent and 24 percent fewer overall, respectively, compared with non-Hispanic youth. About half of the food ads viewed on Spanish-language TV promoted fast food, cereal and candy.

"Given the potential for greater effects from exposure to Hispanic-targeted advertising, the recent introductions of new media and targeted to bilingual Hispanic youth, and food companies' stated intentions to increase marketing to Hispanics, continued monitoring of food and beverage marketing to Hispanic youth is required," the authors conclude.

More information: JAMA Pediatr. Published online June 17, 2013. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2013.137

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