Hey Celebs, Stop Hawking Junk Food to Black Teens

Anna Lappe: Targeted advertising is taking a toll on health
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted May 27, 2014 1:50 PM CDT
Miami Heat forward LeBron James.   (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)
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(Newser) – That lots of US teens are obese and suffering from diet-related diseases is old news, but maybe less well-known is that the problem is notably worse among black and Hispanic youths than their white peers, writes Anna Lappe at al-Jazeera America. And you know what's not helping? "Marketing by the junk food industry directed at African-American and Latino youth has increased in scope, scale and savvy," she writes. Fast-food companies bear the brunt of the blame, of course, but celebs such as LeBron James and Beyonce should accept responsibility, too, and stop hawking high-calorie junk food and sugary drinks.

Minority teens are getting a double dose of marketing—the mainstream stuff that everyone sees, along with tailored pitches that show up in Facebook feeds and the like. One Yale study, for example, estimated that black youths see 80% to 90% more ads for sugary drinks than white kids. And don't forget the sponsored programs that send items like the Hershey Kisses Multiplication Book to poor schools. Enough already, writes Lappe, who thinks we need a pushback similar to the one that sidelined Joe Camel in the tobacco world. "It’s time that McDonald’s—and other fast-food giants—hear that target marketing is a liability." Click for her full column.

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