People of color have the highest obesity rates in the US. Food marketing is part of the problem.
Think about the last time you saw a commercial for a “health” food — yogurt, Vitaminwater, orange juice. Chances are the star of the ad was white. Actresses like Jamie Lee Curtis, Jennifer Aniston, and Jane Krakowski have all appeared in such ads in recent years. Conversely, commercials promoting fast food and soft drinks often feature African Americans. McDonald’s, in fact, has included black people in its ads for decades. Sprite has a similar history, using both rappers and basketball players to hawk its products.
Aarti Ivanic, an associate professor of marketing at the University of San Diego’s School of Business, says this is likely no coincidence. She’s examined the role that race plays in food marketing in research articles like “To Choose (Not) to Eat Healthy: Social Norms, Self‐Affirmation, and Food Choice,” and finds that brands perpetuate racial stereotypes about food consumption by marketing healthful foods to white audiences, and fast and junk foods to black and Hispanic people.