Q & A

Question:

Fast food sales top billions every year. Isn’t the popularity of fast food, junk food, and processed foods just a sign that these companies are creating the food people want to eat—aren’t these companies just responding to consumer demand?

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JulietHigh fast food sales are more a testament to food and beverage companies’ aggressive marketing prowess than a reflection of increasing consumer demand. In particular, food marketers target children and communities of color—and it’s working. The fast food industry spends more than $5 million every day marketing unhealthy foods to children, and in less than one year, the beverage industry spent more than $127 million marketing to communities of color. African-American children see twice as many calories advertised in fast-food commercials than White children, and Latino preschoolers see almost 300 advertisements for fast foods each year on Spanish-language channels alone. Research has shown that these efforts have a direct and powerful impact on young kids’ food preferences and eating behaviors, and with stats like those just listed, it’s no surprise that the food and beverage industry is so profitable.

Featured voice: Juliet Sims, Prevention Institute

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