The Context for Choice

Targeted marketing of high-calorie foods and beverages to ethnic minority populations, relative to more healthful foods, may contribute to ethnic disparities in obesity and other diet-related chronic conditions.

The authors conducted a systematic review of studies published in June 1992 through2006  that permitted comparison of food and beverage marketing to African Americans versus Whites and others. Eight studies reported on product promotions, 11 on retail food outlet locations, and three on food prices. Although the evidence base has limitations, studies indicated that African Americans are consistently exposed to food promotion and distribution patterns with relatively greater potential adverse health effects than are Whites. The limited evidence on price disparities was inconclusive.

This study provides a foundation for others in considering how consumers in these populations respond to their particular marketing environments, allowing for much more specificity than studies of responses to marketing in general. Understanding the marketing environments for specific consumer segments will help to identify gaps and aid in the development of marketing efforts that target prevention efforts or encourage healthy behaviors.