Junk Food Ads May Help Drive Obesity in Hispanic Kids, Study Suggests

Many of the more than 4,200 TV pitches children view each year highlight fatty, sugary fare

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MONDAY, June 17, 2013 (HealthDay News) -- U.S. Hispanic children have high rates of obesity, and a new study suggests exposure to junk food ads on television might be one reason why.

According to the study based on 2010 data, Hispanic children under the age of 18 viewed an average of 12 food and beverage TV ads per day.

"Given higher rates of obesity and overweight for Hispanic youth, it is important to understand the amount and types of food advertising they view," said a team led by Frances Fleming-Milici of Yale University. The findings are published online June 17 in JAMA Pediatrics.

Their analysis estimates that Hispanic children saw a total of more than 4,200 food and beverage ads on television (both English- and Spanish-language TV) in 2010 alone.

Restricting their analysis to Spanish-language television only, the researchers say that Hispanic preschoolers viewed 1,038 food advertisements in 2010, the highest number for any age group, according to a journal news release.

Most of the food and beverage ads seen by the children and teens appeared on English-language TV, but fast food accounted for a higher percentage of food ads on Spanish-language TV, the study found. About half of the food ads on Spanish-language TV were for fast food, cereal or candy.

Exposure to such a large numbers of ads for foods and beverages with little or no nutritional value likely contributes to the high obesity rate among young Americans, the study authors said.

Taking note of "food companies' stated intentions to increase marketing to Hispanics, continued monitoring of food and beverage marketing to Hispanic youth is required," the Yale team added.

More information

The American Academy of Pediatrics has more about childhood nutrition.

SOURCE: JAMA Pediatrics, news release, June 17, 2013


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