High rates of junk food marketing to kids on Spanish TV

It’s bad enough that three quarters of food advertisements on children’s English stations are junk food. But, if the show is in Spanish, those advertisements jump to 84 percent.

“The heaviest concentration of junk food ads on Spanish language children’s shows was fast food outlets. McDonald’s, Burger King, those sorts of outlets. And that is going to basically orient a child at an early age to think it’s OK to eat there every day and when you do that, you know what the outcome will be,” said Dr. Dale Kunkel, who led the research at the University of Arizona.

The outcome for Mexican-Americans kids is a much higher obesity rate than their white peers. That’s 27 percent among Hispanic boys and 17 percent among the girls.

“We’ve got to get to the bottom of it. What are the factors of that are contributing to it? And there are lots of them. Yes, children should be exercising more. Yes, families should be eating better meals together. But, when kids are constantly bombarded by junk food ads on TV, that has a huge impact as well,” expressed Kunkel.

He says his work does not stop here. He plans to hold the fast food industry accountable for claims that they market healthy food to kids.

“We use the department of health and human services food rating scheme to evaluate the foods. We find that the foods the industry labels as healthy, that three quarters of them fall into the poorest nutritional category according to the federal government.”

We reached out to McDonald’s for their take on this study. We have not received a response.

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