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Issue 17 Out Now

Fast-Food Chains Disproportionately Target Black Communities

Photo by Erik Mclean on Unsplash

When I make my drive to the grocery store, I tend to pass many new, innovative restaurants. Many of them support different eating lifestyles like veganism, gluten-free, dairy-free, and more. But when I travel to low-income areas, there seems to be more fast-food chains and liquor stores that are easier to commute to.

I found myself wondering why there is an absence of healthy options in some areas, especially ones with Black and Latino communities. The answer is structural racism.

This is especially affecting Black and Latino communities at higher rates than their white counterparts. This has a lot to do with how access to healthy foods and healthcare coincide with each other.

According to Food First, race, poverty, and food-related diseases count for nearly half of the African-American population and over 42 % of Latinos. Unfortunately, much of our Black youth have been targeted by unhealthy food chains at high rates for decades. According to a report by the Uconn Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity, Black children viewed 70% more food ads than their white peers in 2013.

In 2017, these obvious disparities increased to 86% ad views by Black children, and 119% ad views by Black teens than their white counterparts. On average, 16.4–17.1 food-related ads were viewed daily by Black youth in 2017, according to Uconn.

In 2017, Black youth were watching television at higher states than their white peers. These rates appeared to increase since 2013, according to Uconn. With the increase in television-watching, the types of programming viewed by Black youth advertised more food ads than their white peers.

Food companies started to see the difference in television viewing, so they continued to place their ads during programming where Black youth made up a disproportionately amount of the audience, according to Uconn.

The fact that many view target marketing as “not problematic enough,” only reveals the tremendous privilege and lack of awareness in our society. The reports just evaluated reveal that it is problematic and detrimental to public health, especially for marginalized groups.

It is easy to claim that targeted marketing does not raise issues within itself when it does not directly affect you. It's called privilege. But when there are higher rates of health deficiencies for Black and Latino communities, that's a problem.

They are struggling while reports claim target marketing has no problematic effect. It is the typical veil this country paints over the struggles of marginalized groups.

So, when you make your regular commute to work, or if you are making your Sunday drive, see if you can notice the obvious zones where healthy and unhealthy foods stand. Ask yourself who it is benefiting and why there aren't more raised eyebrows on the matter?


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