*The following is excerpted from an online article posted on HealthDay.
The U.S. fast-food industry has boosted spending on ads targeting kids, especially Black and Hispanic youth, new research shows.
For the study, the researchers analyzed data on ad spending and TV ad exposure for 274 fast-food restaurants and found that annual spending hit $5 billion in 2019, up more than $400 million between 2012 and 2019.
“Fast-food consumption by children and teens has increased over the past decade, and fast-food advertising definitely plays a role in that rise,” said study co-author Jennifer Harris. She is senior research advisor for marketing initiatives at the University of Connecticut’s Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity, in Hartford.
In 2019 alone, 2- to 5-year-olds saw an average of 830 fast-food TV ads; 6- to 11-year-olds saw 787 ads; and 12- to 17-year-olds saw 775 ads, her team reported.
Just 1% of the ads promoted healthy menu choices. The rest touted full-calorie menu items or the restaurants in general.
Only 10% of the ads kids saw appeared during children’s TV programming, and fewer than 10% promoted kids’ meals, the researchers found. Many ads touted mobile apps or websites for digital orders.
Ads on both Spanish-language and Black-targeted TV programming increased dramatically over the study period, the findings revealed. Fast-food ad spending on Spanish-language TV rose 33% between 2012 and 2019. In 2019, Black youth saw 75% more fast-food ads than white youth did, up from a 60% difference in 2012.
On both Spanish-language and Black-targeted TV programming, fast-food ads more often featured low-cost, large-portion menu items and meal deals versus other offerings. No healthy menu items at all were advertised on Spanish-language TV, according to the report.
The findings were published on the center’s FACTS website. FACTS is an acronym for Food Advertising to Children and Teens Score.