Spanish-language television commercials for foods and beverages with little nutritional value might be contributing to obesity rates among Hispanic children in the U.S., according to a study published by the Journal of Pediatrics. Nearly half of all food commercials the study examined advertised fast food, and more than half of drink commercials advertised beverages with high sugar contents.
For the study, lead author Darcy Thompson, a pediatrician at Johns Hopkins Children Center, and colleagues reviewed 60 hours of programming airing from 3 p.m. through 9 p.m. on Univision and Telemundo, the two largest Spanish-language channels in the U.S. Of the 989 product advertisements that aired during the study period, 15% were for food or beverages, an average of about 2.5 food or drink ads per hour. Most of the food and drink ads were oriented toward adults, though 29% were oriented toward both children and adults, and 2% were oriented specifically toward children, the study found.
Researchers said the number of ads for a pediatric nutritional supplement, which accounted for 12% of drink commercials, was a surprise. According to the study, "The ad campaign appeals to a common concern of some Latino families that their normal-to-overweight preschool child isn't eating enough, 'no come nada
,' even though their child's eating habits are typical and age-appropriate."