Food and Beverage Companies Have Broken Their Promise to Latino Children
“I pinky promise!” my son told me when I asked if he was going to eat all his vegetables. To break that promise would have violated his tween ethical code. It was a solemn oath, one of the greatest any child could give.
In 2007, major food and beverage companies made their own pinky promise to families and children. They pledged to self-regulate the number of ads targeting children with unhealthy dietary choices. This pledge was called the Children's Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative.
They’ve broken that pledge.
A recent study has shown that U.S. Spanish-Language television ads target children at a higher rate than children on English-language television with unhealthy fast food and sugary drinks. With over 80% of commercials shown during Spanish-language children’s shows, Latino children have become a target, with a giant bull’s eye strapped to their backs.
Funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation through its Healthy Eating Research program, the study, “Food Marketing to Children on U.S. Spanish-Language Television,” is the first large-scale effort to analyze food and beverage advertising on Spanish-language children’s television.
The authors analyzed over 150 Spanish language children’s television programs. Utilizing a food rating system from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, it was determined that the nutritional quality of food products on Spanish-language channels was substantially lower than English channels. In fact, the majority of the advertising included unhealthy food products, like candy, sugary cereals, fries and sodas, while ads for healthy foods, such as fruits and vegetables, were extremely rare and accounted for lower than 1% of the ads shown.
Food and beverage companies agreed to self-regulate.
They pledged a solemn oath to encourage healthier dietary choices and lifestyles in children. They pinky promised.
Isn’t it time these companies are held accountable for their marketing practices?