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Health Equity & Junk Food Marketing: Talking About Targeting Kids of Color

2017 | Read the full brief on the BMSG website.

To ensure that everyone has a fair and just opportunity to be as healthy as possible, we must remove obstacles to health. In the United States, junk food marketing to children is one of those obstacles because it encourages unhealthy diets and, ultimately, fuels disease. Such marketing is also a racial and health equity issue because junk food companies specifically target children and youth of color. Understanding and communicating effectively about this type of targeted marketing is a critical step toward achieving health equity.

Research shows that our preferences for food are established when we are very young, so advocates are increasingly recognizing and concerned about the harms of junk food marketing to kids. PHI's Berkeley Media Studies Group (BMSG) wanted to know: When advocates communicate about junk food marketing, do they talk about health equity? To find out, they analyzed reports, websites and other materials from organizations around the country that are working on issues related to food marketing. They found some mention of the disproportionate amount of junk food marketing targeting children and youth of color, but also identified many gaps in that discussion.

In a new framing brief, BMSG describes what they learned, shows why children of color should be at the forefront of our conversations about and actions to reduce target marketing, and suggests how we all can get better at discussing this critical public health and social justice issue.

Read the full brief.