Research: Latino kids are a top target of junk food ads

New research, video and infographic also highlight strategies to reduce unhealthy food and beverage marketing to Latino kids

SAN ANTONIO (Aug. 15, 2013) — Food and beverage marketers increasingly target Latino kids because of their growing population size, media exposure and spending power.

Much of this kid-focused advertising is for unhealthy foods, studies show.

But additional industry self-regulation and governmental regulation—stimulated by community awareness and action—can help limit the marketing of unhealthy foods and beverages to Latino kids, according to a new package of research materials from Salud America! The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) Research Network to Prevent Obesity Among Latino Children.

The new Salud America! “Healthier Marketing and Latino Kids” research materials start off with an in-depth review of the latest science on the state of U.S. food marketing to Latino children and policy implications based on that research.

The full package of materials also includes an original animated video and infographic.

Latino kids have higher overall levels of media exposure in a typical day (13 hours) than do their white counterparts (8.36 hours). Studies have shown that Spanish-language TV and outdoor billboards disproportionately expose Latino kids to unhealthy food messages.

Industry self-regulation of marketing to kids is mixed, and policy regulation is limited.

“Evidence suggests that policymakers and the public should recognize marketing of unhealthy foods and beverages to youths as a public health problem in need of policy solutions,” said Amelie G. Ramirez, Dr.P.H., director of Salud America!, based at the Institute for Health Promotion Research at the UT Health Science Center San Antonio. Salud America! is a national network of stakeholders seeking environmental and policy solutions to Latino obesity.

Marketing practices can change at the industry or federal levels, but Dr. Ramirez urged local leaders and residents to be aware of their potential influence, too.

She said one study found ways local communities can improve food marketing practices:

• menu labeling;
• prohibiting food sales in non-food retailers;
• prohibiting the sale and advertising of unhealthy foods on campus; and
• creating vending contracts that limit the sale and marketing of unhealthy food and drinks in parks or other active spaces.

“States and municipalities also could conduct public hearings at the state and local levels to raise awareness and initiate community action to reduce community-based exposure of unhealthy product campaigns that specifically target Latino youths,” Dr. Ramirez said.

The new research package is the fifth of six new research material packages by Salud America!, each of which focused on a specific topic on Latino childhood obesity:

healthier school snacks;
better food in the neighborhood;
active spaces;
active play;
healthier marketing; and
• sugary drinks (coming September 2013)

Each topic’s package contains: a research review, an assessment of all available scientific evidence on the topic; an issue brief, a short summary of the research review; an animated video narrated by Latino children; and an infographic, a visual summary of the topic.


Salud America! is a national program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF). Founded in 2007, the program aims to educate and support researchers, decision-makers, community leaders, and the public in contributing toward healthier Latino communities and seeking environmental and policy solutions to the epidemic of Latino childhood obesity. The network is directed by the Institute for Health Promotion Research at The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio. For more information, visit

The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, one of the country’s leading health sciences universities, ranks in the top 3 percent of all institutions worldwide receiving National Institutes of Health funding. The university’s schools of medicine, nursing, dentistry, health professions and graduate biomedical sciences have produced approximately 28,000 graduates. The $736 million operating budget supports eight campuses in San Antonio, Laredo, Harlingen and Edinburg. For more information on the many ways “We make lives better®,” visit

The Institute for Health Promotion Research (IHPR) at The UT Health Science Center at San Antonio investigates the causes and solutions to the unequal impact of cancer and chronic disease among certain populations, including Latinos, in South Texas and the nation. The IHPR, founded in 2006, uses evidence-guided research, training and community outreach to improve the health of those at a disadvantage due to race/ethnicity or social determinants. Visit the IHPR at Please visit our blog or follow us @SaludToday on social media.

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation focuses on the pressing health and health care issues facing our country. As the nation’s largest philanthropy devoted exclusively to health and health care, the Foundation works with a diverse group of organizations and individuals to identify solutions and achieve comprehensive, measurable, and timely change. For more than 40 years the Foundation has brought experience, commitment, and a rigorous, balanced approach to the problems that affect the health and health care of those it serves. When it comes to helping Americans lead healthier lives and get the care they need, the Foundation expects to make a difference in your lifetime. For more information, visit

Share This Article!