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

image: McDonald's sign

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.

Originally published by Berkeley Media Studies Group

Work With Us

You change the world. We do the rest. Explore fiscal sponsorship at PHI.

Bring Your Work to PHI

Support Us

Together, we can accelerate our response to public health’s most critical issues.


Find Employment

Begin your career at the Public Health Institute.

See Jobs

Emergency room nurse talks with patient


New Study: ED Buprenorphine Linked to Sustained Opioid Use Disorder Treatment

Patients who get their first dose of buprenorphine in the Emergency Department (ED) are more likely to remain engaged in opioid use disorder treatment 30 days post-discharge, finds a new study from PHI's CA Bridge—reinforcing EDs as critical access points to highly effective, life-saving medication for addiction treatment.

read the study

Continue to