Increase in Unhealthy Snack Ads for Black Kids

According to a study conducted by the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity, children saw substantially more television advertising for unhealthy snack foods in the past five years, despite industry pledges to self-regulate.

Researchers analyzed data from 2010 to 2014, and discovered that children’s and teens’ exposure to TV ads for snacks such as cookies, chips, and fruit snacks increased over that time-period.

Companies have developed some healthier snacks to meet updated national nutrition standards for snacks sold in schools (Smart Snacks), but with the exception of yogurt, these healthier alternatives were not advertised to children on TV.

“Companies have recognized the business opportunity in marketing healthy snacks to children and teens in schools. Now they must also recognize that aggressive marketing of unhealthy snack foods to young people is not worth the cost to children’s health,” said Jennifer Harris, Ph.D., an author of the study and the Rudd Center’s Director of Marketing Initiatives.

Black and Hispanic children are also disproportionately targeted for unhealthy snacks much more than their white counterparts.

Key findings from the study entitled, Snack FACTS are:

  • Yogurt advertising declined by 93% and not one fruit brand was advertised on Spanish-language TV in 2014.
    Spending on savory snack ads skyrocketed by 551% and sweet snack ads rose by 30%
  • In 2014, Black children saw 64% more snack food ads on TV compared to white children, and Black teens viewed 103% more compared to white teens.
  • Black children saw 99% more ads for savory snacks and Black teens saw 129% more, compared with white children and teens.
  • In 2014, disparities in exposure increased versus 2010 when Black children and teens had viewed 47% more and Black teens viewed approximately 70% more snack food ads than their white peers.


On a positive note, Black children and teens saw approximately 50% and 80% more ads for healthier fruit and yogurt brands.

Click here for the full report.